HIGHLANDERS legend Barry Daka has died.
He passed on yesterday morning after a short illness aged 71.
His son and family spokesperson Mayfield Daka described him as a great motivator, who was ever joking.
“He was one of the best motivators and ever joking, never angry and always humble. His nickname was ‘Ghost’ because he was always joyful and loved football,” said Mayfield.
“We only have fond memories of utopi. The time I spent with him was all laughter. He has left a big void that will be hard to fill for many years to come.”
Daka started his footballing career in the early 1960s playing for a number of youth clubs dotted around Bulawayo before joining Highlanders in 1965.
“We played in Matshobana, Sizinda and all around the City of Bulawayo. That is why people always talk of Highlanders playing at Greenspan,” Daka once told former Highlanders coach Keutsepilemang Ndebele.
He played alongside the Nxumalo brothers James and Josiah, Majuta Mpofu, Ananias Dube, Billy Sibanda, Kenny Ngulube, Edward Dzowa, Andrew Jele, Tommy Masuku, Lawrence Phiri, Geoffrey Mpofu, Boet Van As, Tymon Mabaleka, Gavin Dubely and Bruce Grobbelaar, among other Bosso greats.
He left Highlanders to join Hwange, then Wankie, and was part of the 1973 squad that lifted the Castle Cup while in Division One after shocking Dynamos 2-1 in the final.
He returned to Highlanders, albeit briefly, before aligning with a breakaway group of players, who went on to form Olympics. At Olympics he became the first ever player coach after undergoing training.
But his heart was always with Highlanders.
He rejoined Bosso as assistant coach to Briton Bobby Clark in 1983 before taking over the dressing room as head coach the following year.
Daka went on to win the 1984 Chibuku Trophy, beating archrivals Dynamos 2-1. The following year, he led Highlanders to the BAT Rosebowl glory and was a losing finalist in the Chibuku Trophy, going down 0-1 to Arcadia United.
In 1986, Daka led Bosso to the Chibuku Trophy, Rothmans Shield and Castle Cup triumphs. He produced the Soccer Star of the Year in 1987 when steely right-back Mercedes ‘Rambo’ Sibanda was voted the finest player in the land.
Bosso went on to clinch every knockout silverware on offer in 1988, but missed out on the league title, which was clinched by city rivals Zimbabwe Saints, who also produced another defender Ephraim Chawanda as Soccer Star of the Year.
In 1989, Highlanders reached the semi-finals of the BAT Rosebowl and final of the Africa Day Cup, with players such as the late Fanuel Ncube, Titus Majola and Abraham Madondo, Alexander Maseko, Tobias Mudyambanje, Dumisani Ngulube, Ronnie Jowa, Tito Paketh, Mpumelelo Dzowa and Amin Soma forming the backbone of Daka’s squad.
He quit Highlanders to join Railstars in 1997 before leaving the railwaymen two years later.
Daka moved to Botswana in 2001, taking over as head coach of Notwane, but had to wait for six years before clinching his maiden league title in the neighbouring country with Ecco City in 2007, an achievement that saw him being named Coach of the Year.
At international level, Daka clinched a silver medal as assistant coach to Wieslaw Grabowski in the 1995 All-Africa Games when their Under-23 side lost to Egypt in the final.
That Young Warriors team consisting of talented players such as Gift Muzadzi, Lloyd Jowa, Alois Bunjira, Stewart Murisa, Elasto Lungu, Methembe Ndlovu, Vusi Laher, Engelbert Dinha, Cain and Abel Muteji is considered the best ever assembled junior team in the country.
Mayfield revealed that his father passed away at a time he was in the middle of writing a book about the history of Zimbabwean football.
“Like I said he was a funny character full of jokes, I remember two of his jokes he would tell us that ‘uHomela (Gibson Homela) ligorila elileface enhle,’ and ‘eTunisia kuthiwa sitshiye abafana abangoclever sabuya labobhare’.”
At the time of his death, Daka was a member of the Bulawayo City FC panel of football advisors.
Daka is survived by a wife, four children, Mayfield, Michelle, a nurse in Swaziland, Lorraine, a bank manager in South Africa, and Marcelene, a medical doctor in Botswana, and 10 grandchildren.
Two of his children Rosweter and Billy are late.
Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.
Mourners are gathered at House Number 153, Barbourfields.