The Sunday Mail
WHEN Khama Billiat scored a stunner that resembled Zinedine Zidane’s famous Champions League final winning goal against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002, I knew he was destined for greatness.
Zizou’s left-footed volley into the top corner killed Bayer Leverkusen’s dream of a maiden Champions League title in Glasgow, Scotland.
However, in our own little world, a left-footed volley into the top left corner saved the day for Mufakose’s Gwinyiro Primary School in a friendly encounter against a primary school outfit from Cranborne in 2003.
Khama, who was the team captain, didn’t celebrate, but the crowd did.
In fact, the crowd went wild.
I had a better view of the magnificent finish as a fellow forward in our 2003 Gwinyiro Primary School soccer team that featured another former Warrior’s player, Tafadzwa Kutinyu.
We had the privilege to experience in training and in matches at primary school level what Khama went on to display in national colours for a decade.
Every time he wore the Warriors number 12 green-and-white jersey, I always imagined him as our Gwinyiro Primary School version of the legendary Peter Ndlovu.
Despite being primary school encounters, most of our matches pulled in crowds of expectant fans who wanted to catch a glimpse of Khama’s magic.
For more than a decade after leaving primary school, the Kaizer Chiefs talisman went on to serve the nation with his talents.
We are obviously proud that one of us managed to scale such incredible heights.
All the best for your career, Khama.
Billiat (31) announced his retirement from international football on Monday, a day after Zimbabwe completed their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-1 home draw against Ethiopia.
It was a disastrous campaign for the Warriors in which they shuffled three coaches — Joey Antipas, Zdravko Logarusic and Norman Mapeza — and only registered a win in the preliminary round stage.
They, however, lost the plot in the group stages and finished winless.
They only managed two points from as many home draws to show for their efforts.
The nation’s dream died, and with it Khama’s dream of playing for Zimbabwe at the World Cup.
The Warriors could not even challenge for a place in the African play-offs round of the 2022 global soccer showcase scheduled for Qatar in December next year.