Zimbabwean footballers who swim in cash, only to end up in poverty

Gilbert Mushangazhike, who played in South Africa and China, could have been living in the lap of luxury instead of jostling for a coaching job at small Zimbabwean football teams, had he been careful with his spending.

THE story of Ivory Coast’s Emmanuel Eboue is one of a footballer who made millions of dollars while turning out for top clubs in Europe, but now has nothing to show for all the sweat from the football field.

At one time, Eboue had nowhere to stay and was sleeping on the floor at a friend’s house despite having starred for such clubs as Arsenal and Galatasaray and earning huge sums of money.

His story is saddening, but Eboue cannot blame anyone for having not invested back at home when he had the time and the money to do so, after having also turned out for Sunderland and Limassol.

Yes, Eboue is pointing a finger at his messy divorce from his former English wife Aureli as to why he is in this situation, but the question is: Why didn’t he invest back at home in the Ivory Coast in the first place?

After losing all his assets in England during that divorce, Eboue could easily have returned back home to Ivory Coast and still enjoyed a decent life after both football and the marital collapse.

Eboue is not alone in this situation as there are also many in Zimbabwe who went abroad and made money, but did not invest their football earnings back home and are now languishing in poverty.

Some of them are now a sad sight in the streets of Zimbabwe having earned quite substantial amounts — for that matter in foreign currency — while turning out for clubs in South Africa, Asia, and Europe.

It was not so long ago that friends and the football family had to make contributions to enable the body of former Warriors captain Francis Shonhayi to be brought back to Zimbabwe for burial after he passed on in South Africa where he turned out for Cape Town Spurs.

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Former Warriors defender Zvenyika Makonese was at one time said to have turned into a bus conductor after allegedly squandering all his earnings in a lavish nightclub lifestyle in South Africa where he starred for Orlando Pirates.

Gilbert Mushangazhike, who played in South Africa and China, could have been living in the lap of luxury instead of jostling for a coaching job at small Zimbabwean football teams, had he been careful with his spending.

Fine, living large in foreign lands is not bad, but our footballers scattered all over the world should know that one day their playing days will come to an end and so will be their earnings.

It does not make sense for a player to be seen moving around in top-of-the-range cars in a foreign country when back at home one does not have a place of his own to stay or a residential stand to build a house in future.

Our players should also think deep about their marriages and see whether getting a wife in a foreign land is better than the one you have known since childhood as Eboue is also not alone in his predicament.

The lesson is that football has a short span and the idea is to invest back home while time still allows like what a few others have done after stints abroad.

For example, Norman Mapeza has a house in the leafy suburb of Glen Lorne and another in Msasa Park and can afford to live without a job by leasing his Glen Lorne home while at the same time residing in Msasa Park without paying rentals.

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Norman Mapeza is living comfortably

Former Manchester City striker Benjani Mwaruwari has properties in Switzerland, France, South Africa, as well as in Bulawayo and is enjoying his life after football in South Africa where he now lives.

The same goes for Edward Sadomba, who has invested heavily in properties and land in Harare and other towns while he also boasts of business interests in Sudan and Mozambique.

Supersport United coach Kaitano Tembo also has properties scattered all over Harare and makes regular visits to check whether they are being well managed.

Kaitano Tembo, coach of Supersport United

With all the money they are making in Europe, the Mapeza, Tembo, Mwaruwari, and Sadomba route should be the road that the likes of Marvelous Nakamba, Tino Kadewere, Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona, Nyasha Mushekwi and a host others in South Africa should follow.

A player earning as much as US$66 000 a week in the case of Nakamba, or US$85 000 a month for Musona, US$66 000 a month in the case of Kadewere or US$44 000 in the case of Billiat should surely be able to live comfortably back home when they eventually retire.

Marvelous Nakamba… believed to be Zimbabwe’s current top football earner.

It would be saddening to one day see some of these players roaming around the streets with satchels strapped on their backs, and nothing to show for their long stints abroad.

Mushekwi has already made it clear that his dream is to one day own his own football team in the local Premiership and those are the dreams that great footballers should have.

Surely, Zimbabwean footballers are earning their share of big money both in South Africa and Europe, and it is up to them to make the best out of those earnings for a better life after football.

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