To grow up very far from recognition in a mining town called Arcturus — laden with digging and not sporting heroes — and then defy the odds to rise through the pits and conquer not only Harare and the country but also neighbouring South Africa is no mean feat.
To then reach the vastly competitive and famed Super Diski league, earn the nickname Great Khali, and be crowned both Player and Players’ Player of the Season, beating your national captain Tapuwa Kapini to all awards, while unknown in your country of origin, is astounding.
But great men are seldom satisfied, are they?
For Great Khali — better known by his birth name Carlington Nyadombo — the afore-mentioned achievements, plus being called up to the Warriors squad, are nothing compared to the targets he has set himself.
That ambition, the determination that took him from Arcturus to the ABSA Premiership via Chando Kupisa at 24 is still spurring Nyadombo on and, after his unheralded debut against Guinea, the hard-tackling centre back reckons “you ain’t seen nothing yet!”
“I wish to go to Europe and play for one of the big clubs in the Champions League and win it. With the Warriors I wish to go to Afcon and win the Cup in SA and then the Brazil 2014 World Cup, not just to make the numbers,” the AmaZulu defender boldly declared.
While many — this reporter included — might be quick to dismiss the Great Khali as a dreamer, the no-nonsense defender quickly reminds us of how he stood his own against the all-conquering Manchester United during the MTN Football Invitational match at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on July 18 this year in Durban, South Africa.
But while the green AmaZulu jersey butters his bread, it is the green-and-gold Warriors uniform that gives the former Gunners defender pride and honour every time he dons it.
The reigning AmaZulu Player of the Year got his Warriors break-through from coach Rahman Gumbo, whose selection base had been whittled down by the suspension of 96 players who had been fingered in the Asiagate match-fixing probe, forcing Warriors gaffer to cast his net wide.
The inclusion of the relatively unknown Carlington Nyadombo must have left many football fans perplexed as to just what path their beloved team was taking, but Gumbo and his technical team are having the last laugh as the 26-year-old is becoming the rock on which the national side’s defence fortress is constructed.
“The national call was not a surprise to me as I knew that it was on its way. You know sometimes you can have that feeling of something before it happens. When I got called for the national team, I told myself that, ‘now it’s time to take big responsibilities’ as you know it is not easy to play for the national team if you do not work very hard.
“I had never played in any junior national side, not because I was not good enough but the luck was just not on my side,” said the man expected to put his 83kg frame on the line in defence of the fatherland this afternoon.
Nyadombo also sang the praises of Kapini, his leader both at club and national level, saying the goalie has been very helpful to him, especially in Durban.
The big defender is a product of the famed Gunners Football Club with whom he won the league title in 2009 and went on to represent the country in the CAF Champions League.
He was part of the mighty Chando Kupisa squad that humbled Egyptian giants and former African club champions Al Ahly 1-0 in the second round of the Champions League.
Coincidentally the Palancas Negras have a defender nicknamed Khali in iconic Carlos Manuel Gonçalves Alonso, who nonetheless will not be able to line up against the Warriors.
While the Angolan Khali will be missing in action, the local Khali stands ready to do duty if selected by head coach Rahman Gumbo.
Nyadombo, who grew up idolising Francis Shonhayi and Norman Mapeza, need not be reminded that his dream of winning the African Cup of Nations can only materialise if the Warriors clear the Palancas
Negras that stand in their way, and doing so starts with getting a healthy lead this afternoon.