Is it even debatable that Peter Ndlovu is Zimbabwe’s Greatest Of All Time?


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The game of football and debate are just inseparable.

By Lawrence Mangenje

Football fans have for the past 16 years debated on who between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest footballer of all time.

The fact that Messi has more World Player of the Year awards does not convince those who sing in Ronaldo’s corner to believe that the Argentine is the greatest. They still insist Ronaldo is, understandably so considering that number of records broken by the Portuguese superstar.

Others feel the greatest of all time is Ronaldinho, while some think its a toss of the coin between Pele and the late Diego Maradona.

The question as to who the greatest footballer of all time is, is one of, if not the most inconclusive debates in the history of mankind.

Zimbabwean football lovers are no exception when it comes to debating on who the standout player in the history of the local game is.

Objectively-speaking though, is it even debatable that Peter Ndlovu is the greatest soccer player to come out of this land?

Is using the word ‘arguably’ in saying Ndlovu is the greatest, not the biggest injustice ever?

Will anyone watching the Castle Premier Soccer League currently, believe that it is humanly possible for a player to move from the local top flight, straight to the English Premier League?

Without even confining ourselves to Zimbabwe,  how many times has it happened in Africa, that a player moves from an African league, straight to the English top-flight?

When an 18-year old Peter Ndlovu Ndlovu arrived at Coventry in the summer of 1991 from Bulawayo giants Highlanders for a reported transfer fee of just £10,000, it was watershed in the history of the English top-flight, as far as players from Africa were concerned.

British writer Ed Aarons believes that move led to an influx of African players in the English top-division.

“The number of African players plying their trade in Europe’s biggest leagues grew steadily in the early Nineties, although there was none present in the starting line-ups on the inaugural day of the Premier League in August 1992,” he wrote.

“In stark comparison to today’s competition, only 13 non-British players were selected by the 22 teams, with Ipswich’s Canadian goalkeeper Craig Forrest the only representative from outside Europe.

“That statistic changed a week later, however, when a skinny teenager from Bulawayo came off the bench in Coventry City’s 2-0 win at Tottenham to become the first African player to feature in the Premier League.”

When it comes to the national team, no player can and should even be compared to ‘The Flying Elephant’.

He is the first captain to lead Zimbabwe to AFCON qualification, when the Sunday ‘Mhofu’ Chidzambwa-led Warriors class of 2004, stepped on Tunisian soil for the country’s maiden appearance at the continental showpiece.

He also scored Zimbabwe’s first ever goal at the Afcon finals, when he headed brilliantly, the late Charles Yohane’s sublime cross, to open the scoring against the Pharaohs of Egypt.

That goal was one of 37 Ndlovu netted in his glittering international career spanning over two decades, a tally which is yet to be reached.

The closest player to reach that record tally is current skipper Knowledge Musona, who is 13 shy of it.

While the land is blessed with an array of iconic football stars who have made history in various aspects, surely, no one can surpass Ndlovu.

With respect to other yesteryear stars, including the late George ‘The Mastermind’ Shaya, Ndlovu was and is still a cut above the rest.

feedback: lawrence@soccer24.co.zw