The Sunday Mail
THE late Archieford “Chehuchi” Chimutanda, one of the most creative players ever to come out of Zimbabwe, had a famous quote back in the 1980s when he was at the peak of his powers.
“Jersey number 10 nderedu isu ana Archie tinotamba kunge Maradona (Leave that jersey number 10 for me because I play like Maradona),” Chimutanda would brag during his days at Black Aces.
Diego Maradona, arguably the greatest player of all time, died in Argentina on Wednesday and was buried alongside his parents on the outskirts Buenos Aires on Thursday.
The gifted Maradona rocked the world in the 1980s, especially in 1986 when he captained Argentina to the World Cup title, in the process popularising jersey number 10 which became an iconic football number.
His impact spread across the globe and Zimbabwe was not spared, as revealed by the country’s most successful coach Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa.
Yesterday, some of the country’s greats joined in the tributes to the Argentine legend.
“Diego Maradona was a very talented player, I remember back in the 1980s you had to make sure you watched Argentina play,” said Chidzambwa.
“There is this debate about who was better Diego or the great Pele. My take is that these were two different players with different styles.
“However, Maradona was an all-rounder. He played sweet football. He could dribble, pass and shoot.
“When I started coaching in the early 1980s, Maradona was about 20 and he wasn’t that popular here in Zimbabwe until 1986 when he won the World Cup for Argentina.
“He had a lot of impact on some of the players here in Zimbabwe. He was such an inspiration to young boys starting their careers here,” said the former Dynamos coach.
The year Maradona held the world spell bound, literally single-handedly winning the World Cup for Argentina in Mexico, was the same year that one of the local greats, Moses Chunga, rocked the domestic scene, scoring a record 46 goals for Dembare before being crowned the 1986 Soccer Star of the Year.
It was during the same era when Chimutanda was blazing for Black Aces, who also featured one of Zimbabwe’s finest goalkeepers Brenna Msiska.
Msiska relived the 1980s, when Maradona’s impact on the game was felt by local footballers.
“Maradona was in a class of his own, we used to admire him from here. A lot of players back then wanted to be like him.
“Actually, during our days at Black Aces, the late Chimutanda would brag that jersey number 10 was his because he could carry the team just like what Maradona did with Argentina.
“And for sure Archie was a brilliant player, we could all see our own Maradona in him,” Msiska said.
Former Warriors coaches Kalisto Pasuwa and Norman Mapeza grew up together in Chitungwiza at a time Maradona was at his peak.
They both remember how they used to “fight” for the jersey number 10 at junior level.
“Massive impact he had (Maradona),” said Mapeza, who is now back at FC Platinum.
“Growing up we all wanted to wear jersey number 10 because of Diego. I have two DVDs and an autobiography to show how he really impacted my football life.
“May his soul rest in peace. He will forever remain the ‘GOAT”, said Mapeza.
Malawi-based Pasuwa, a serial championship winner with Dynamos, is also mourning the great Maradona from his base in Blantyre where he is in charge of champions Nyasa Bullets.
“It’s very unfortunate the football fraternity has lost Maradona so early,” Pasuwa said.
“He was an icon, no doubt about that. I personally emulated his hunger for success both as a player and coach.
“As we were growing up we used to fight for the number 10 shirt or it was reserved for the team’s best player mainly because of people like Diego who wore the same shirt number.
“Anyway, Maradona played his part in the development of football both for his country and the entire world and it’s now up to us to carry on from where he left.
“May his soul rest in eternal peace,” said Pasuwa.
Maradona, who is widely regarded as one of the best football players of all time, died in his home after suffering a heart attack.
He was 60.
Maradona led Argentina to four World Cups, and won one in 1986 before losing it to Germany in the final in 1990.
He also coached Argentina at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.
He scored his infamous “Hand of God” goal in Argentina’s 2-1 quarter-final win over England at the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico moments before he grabbed his second in the same game which was voted FIFA’s goal of the century.
According to reports from England, the No.10 shirt that Maradona worn during that match could be available for US$2 million.
The shirt is owned by former England player Steve Hodge, who got it from Maradona after they swapped jerseys.
Hodge’s attempted back pass led to the controversial goal.
But for many in football and as the tributes would show, it was the genius that Maradona was that left a lasting impression and helped make the number 10 shirt special.
The number 10 shirt has also been worn by many football legends and icons, including Pele, Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi. They wore No. 10 while starring on the biggest stages for their countries and were vital to giving the number its meaning and sense of mystique. Today, the best soccer players strive to earn the honour of wearing the number 10 jersey for their team because it’s attached to such prestige and is a sign of earned respect.