Talking Football with Lawrence
Khama Billiat is a household name in Zimbabwean football.
The pint-sized Mufakose-bred winger, in an international career spanning over a decade, is remembered for many unforgetable moments in the gold and green Warriors strip.
He is simply a phenominal player whose talent no sane football fan can ever question.
When Zimbabwe started both the World Cup and AFCON qualifying campaigns, it was the Aces Youth Academy graduate whose crucial three goals made the biggest difference.
His stoppage time stunner against Somalia at the National Sports Stadium ensured Zimbabwe’s passage to the group stages of the Road to Qatar.
Equally crucial was his brace against Zambia in an AFCON qualifier in Lusaka. Zimbabwe emerged 2-1 winners- a result many felt was the most important in the Road to Cameroon.
Just before the tournament (AFCON) though, he shocked the nation when he quit international football.
He gave no satisfactory reason for his decision but it became apparent that the 1-1 draw against Ethiopia, in which he was stand-in captain, would be his last game in a Warriors shirt.
Understandably, it was a decision many refused to accept, including the Warriors technical team, resulting in ZIFA sending a delegation to try and persuade him back in the Warriors fold, at least for the AFCON finals in Cameroon.
Whether that delegation met the player or not, is not known, but what’s clear is that Billiat stood his ground.
In revealing to the nation that Billiat would not take part in the continental showpiece, Warriors Team Manager Welly Mpandare said the door remains for the player in future.
He (Mpandare) said the same after the finals.
“The door has not been closed for him, as long as the his services are required the door will remain open for him. Remember we even tried to convince him to join the team to Cameroon. It didn’t work,” he said.
“The media played a big role in his retirement from international football. They were too harsh on him and Musona. These boys need everyone ‘s support when the chips are down,” added Mpandare.
As much as Billiat was a key member of the Warriors squad, in advocating for his comeback, after retirement, are we sending a good message to young players who aspire to play for the national team or even fans of the game?
Are we not supposed to respect his decision and just celebrate all he has done for the national team.
One needs to have passion and desire for the national team, something Billiat had throughout his international career.
Billiat would answer the call to play for Zimbabwe when Warriors stars got literally nothing, compared to what he was paid at Kaizer Chiefs.
He would sing passionately with Jimmy Dzingai before matches.
He would score very important goals and single- handedly deliver, on numerous occasions.
Put simply, he loved the national team but he no longer feels the same, and that is something we should just accept and respect.
If we continue to insinuate that he is still needed, we are simply sending a message that certain players are irreplaceable.
We might never have a player in mold of Billiat quality wise but we will definitely have one with the same passion and dedication he had.