Ten years on, Adamski’s death feels like both yesterday and forever

Sunrise is a perfect rose of beauty. It brings forth hope and inspiration to the point that some people believe the secret to a good morning is watching sunrise.

But when the sun rose on December 16 2012, it presented tragedy.

The nation was shell-shocked when news broke out in the morning of that fateful day that legendary former Warriors striker Adam Ndlovu, had died aged 42.

A Victoria Falls-bound BMW X5 crashed at the 417km peg near Lupinyu Business around 1am and uprooted three trees.

On board were the Ndlovu brothers, Adam and Peter— former national team captain and arguably the greatest footballer Zimbabwe has ever produced, as well as a woman identified as Nomqele Tshili.

Adam, who was the head coach of Chicken Inn then, died on his way to hospital while Tshili died on the spot, according to the Police report. Peter, who was driving the car, sustained head injuries and was left battling for life.

Tragedy had indeed befallen the nation of Zimbabwe. Even then President Robert Mugabe was touched by the loss.

“It is with deep sense of shock and sadness that I leant of the untimely death yester morning of one of our revered soccer legends Adam Ndlovu, following a car accident near Victoria Falls International Airport,” the late former head of state in a statement.

“On behalf of government, the nation and my own behalf, I wish to condole with the Ndlovu family upon Adam’s passing on and wish at the same time Peter’s recovery from the injuries,” he added.

Ten years on, those who played with the former Bosso striker, have not forgotten to remember him.

“I remember this other day while we were at Babourfields Stadium, I was telling one of my players that Adamski once did a very cool celebration when he scored for Highlanders against CAPS United here,” says Chicken Inn goalkeepers coach and former Zimbabwe international Energy Murambadoro, who played with Ndlovu in the Warriors in the early 2000s.

Murambadoro recalls how shocked he was when he heard the news of Adam’s death 10 years ago.

“I was totally shocked and devastated at the same time. I played with him (Adamski) in the national team and against, while I played for CAPS and he was at Highlanders,” says Murambadoro.

In 2003, during an AFCON qualifier between Zimbabwe and Mauritania at the National Sports Stadium, a sublime cross from Peter was met with a thumping header by Adam, to put the Warriors in front.

What followed was one of the most iconic moments in the history of Zimbabwean football— the ‘machine gun’ celebration.

Murambadoro, who was in goal for Zimbabwe, ran the length of the entire pitch for the celebration and threw himself onto the ground—an incident widely remembered by football fans.

Gokwe, as Murambadoro is affectionately known, evokes that moment in remembering Adamski.
“The ‘machine gun’ celebration was my best moment with him. To be honest, the day he died feels like yesterday,” says the former Warriors number one.

Adamski cut his football teeth at Highlanders in the early 90s before joining Swiss side SC Kriens in 1994. He then moved SR Delemont in 1997.

In between that period, he had an unheralded trial stint at English giants Manchester United.

He briefly returned to Bosso in 2001, before crossing the Limpopo to South Africa, where he turned out for the country’s top-flight sides Moroka Swallows and Free State Stars from 2002 to 2005, before hanging his boots and venturing into coaching.

One of the voices that accompanied many moments in Adamski’s glittering career spanning over a decade, on radio, was that of veteran commentator Charles Mabika.

CNN, as Mabika is affectionately known, still speaks glowingly of the late Adamski.

“We called him Adamski and he was giant of the game. On and off the pitch with an infectious smile that ‘bewitched’ his opponents all over the pitch,” said Mabika.

“For me, he is still one of the deadliest forwards and goal scorers I ever watched on a football pitch.

Added Mabika: “After he hung up his boots, he immediately tried his hand at coaching and oh boy, did he hit the ground running.

The veteran commentator believes Adamski built the foundation from which Chicken Inn advanced to become one of the big teams in the Premier Soccer League.

“In an instant, as head coach of Chicken Inn, he built the rock which ‘The Gamecocks’ are now firmly perched as one of Zimbabwe’s giants,” reckons Mabika.

Off the pitch, Mabika considered Adamski as a friend and the two shared many good times together.
For Mabika, the pain that came with Adamski’s death hasn’t gone away after 10 years.

“May his dear soul continue to rest in peace,” he said.

Chicken Inn spokesperson Nkululeko Nkala, says the club will always be obliged to the late Adamski and described the former Zimbabwe international’s death anniversary as gloomy.

“It’s a sad day now as it was 10 years ago. Adam will forever be engraved in the history of the club and in our hearts,” Nkala said.

“One can only wonder what he could have achieved as a coach. We honor and remember him, may his soul continue to rest in peace,” he added.

Forever etched in the hearts of many football fans, RIP Adamski.

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