The Sunday Mail
“Bello is a rebel and I don’t know if we are going to see another rebel from the players here,” was what Keni Mubaiwa said in February 2014 when Gift Bello moved to FC Platinum.
Bello left Dynamos, who had won three straight Castle Lager Premier Soccer League titles between 2011 and 2103, to join FC Platinum at the beginning of the 2014 season in a move that shook local football and frustrated then DeMbare president Mubaiwa.
All that is now water under the bridge.
The 34-year-old centre-back won another league title with FC Platinum last season and last weekend guided the defending champions to their 14th clean sheet of the 2018 campaign.
The 0-0 home draw against Caps United at Mandava was FC Platinum’s eighth clean sheet at their Zvishavane base this season.
The veteran Bello — who is in his 10th Premiership season – has been the heartbeat of an FC Platinum back four that has remained intact since 2014.
The Pure Platinum Play skipper marshals a solid defence that comprises centre-back partner Kelvin Moyo, right-back Raphael Muduviwa and left-back Elvis Moyo.
“It’s all about understanding each other, knowing how to defend in different situations. Besides, this back four has been together for almost four and half years now.
“Probably our coach Norman Mapeza being someone who played in defence in his career has helped us. A lot of credit goes to the coach and his technical staff,” Bello told The Sunday Mail Sport.
FC Platinum sit on top of the table with 46 points from 20 games, having conceded just eight to make making them the most miserly defence in the PSL today.
Since Bello joined them four seasons ago, Pure Platinum Play have 35 clean sheets in their last 50 PSL matches, won a first league title, and scooped a couple of trophies including the 2014 Chibuku Super Cup.
It has been a worthwhile four-year stay in Zvishavane for Bello, who made his topflight debut with Kiglon on March 15, 2008.
“I have achieved a lot with FC Platinum, winning the league title, the Chibuku Super Cup and playing in the CAF Champions League.
“No regrets at all about leaving the capital city Harare in 2014, it’s good here in Zvishavane. In life there comes a time when one has to move on and face new challenges and also improve your working conditions.
“I did that in 2014 when I left Dynamos and I am happy it has turned out to be a wise move. My family is happy,” said Bello.
He is married to a teacher Gamuchirai Mamutse and the couple has two kids Tyler (2) and Taraj who was born on May 20 — the day FC Platinum outclassed Dynamos 2-0 at Rufaro.
It was a master class that left Rufaro’s diehard Vietnam Stand fans in awe and re-emphasised that FC Platinum are the new giant of local football.
Bello attributes his side’s consistency over the past 18 months to coach Mapeza’s work ethic.
“It all boils down to hard work and we have a coach who is so devoted to his work. Mudhara Mapeza pays attention to every detail, there’s no room for mistakes and he is a perfectionist,” said Bello.
The past few weeks have not been rosy for the defending champions, who have not won since the start of the second half of the 2018 race. FC Platinum have lost 1-2 at home to ZPC Kariba, drawn 1-1 at Yadah Stars, and had a 0-0 draw against Caps United last weekend.
“That will not distract us from our goal which is to defend our title, besides it is still too early to talk about the championship. There will be ups and downs along the journey and mentally I think we are prepared for that,” remarked Bello.
The Harare-born player has seen a lot in his football journey having seen duty with Kiglon, Shooting Stars, Dynamos and FC Platinum in his decade-long topflight career. Bello is one of the last men standing from Lloyd Mutasa’s famous Kiglon of 2010, many of whose players went on to form the backbone of the DeMbare side which would win four straight league titles between 2011 and 2014 under Kalisto Pasuwa.
Thomas Magorimbo, Dominic Benati, Devon Chafa, Denver Mukamba and Bello were some of the players who were taken to DeMbare by Mutasa in 2011.
“It’s has been a long journey indeed.
“Sometimes I think about my PSL debut back in 2008 when I played in the same Kiglon team with the likes of Tawanda Nyamandwe and (Tawanda) Munyanduri. God has kept me well.”