Norman Mapeza says Wieslaw Grabowski played a critical role in shaping his career both as a player and a coach.

The former Warriors boss is one of the early local players in post-independence era to feature in the Uefa Champions League after moving to Europe in the 90s.

The move was facilitated by Grabowski who owned and coached Darryn Textiles (DT) FC which played in the top-flight.

In an interview with Daily News on Sunday, Mapeza lauded the Poland-born gaffer nurturing him and other yesteryear big names such as Lloyd Chitembwe, Edelbert Dinha, Alois Bunjira and Shingirai Kawondera.

“Grabowski did a lot for so many players, for instance, Chitembwe and Dinha, both at one point of their careers played in Poland and a whole lot of other players, so I really want to thank him because he gave us an opportunity,” he said.

“Going to Europe was one of my best moments and playing for Zimbabwe…

“Some of the players that I played with are into coaching as well which means we had proper grooming and mentorship.”

Mapeza says his biggest regret is failing to win a league title as a player. He has achieved that feat as a coach, winning it three times – first with Monomotapa in 2008 and then with FC Platinum from 2017-18.

“Perhaps my only regret is that I didn’t manage to win a league as a player, but I’m grateful to God that he gave me a career and I’m grateful for my family,” he added.