THERE was a time when Olympic Lyon striker Tino Kadewere used to play barefoot at Highfield Academy in Harare, until his brother Prince bought him his first pair of football boots.
Tino still remembers well that pair of Diadora boots.
There was also a time when Tino’s favourite shirt number was 14, especially when he was still playing for Zimbabwe’s international youth teams — the Under-17 and Under-20 squads.
Three-time Ballon d’Or winner and Dutch football legend Hendrik Johannes Cruyff, popularly known as Johan Cruyff, is the greatest player in the history of the game to wear the number 14 shirt.
Arsenal legend Thierry Henry also used to wear the same jersey number when he was still a Gunners player.
But Tino was inspired to wear that number 14 jersey by his brother Prince, who used to don the same jersey number when he was still a star player at now-defunct sides Monomotapa and Air Zimbabwe Jets.
Sadly, Prince is gone and Tino, who now wears jersey number 24 at Lyon, is a devastated young man.
Coach Pipi, as Prince was affectionately known, died after a short illness at a medical facility in Harare on Wednesday at the age of 40.
At the time of his death, Prince was coaching Division Two side Highfield Youth Academy, a club that was founded by his late father, Onias.
Tino flew back into the country on Thursday afternoon and was part of the grieving Kadewere family members and relatives who attended Prince’s burial at Murombedzi in Zvimba yesterday, after Government gave him an exemption to leave quarantine on Friday.
After receiving the sad news from Lyon director Juninho’s phone, Tino was helped by his club to get an immediate flight — Ethiopian Airways plane — which arrived in Harare on Thursday afternoon.
He was sent into quarantine at Bronte Hotel before he was released on Friday.
The Warriors forward poured his heart out a few hours before Prince’s burial in Zvimba yesterday.
“This is another sad chapter in my life. I have lost a caring brother. I will miss him; it is not going to be easy.
“But I believe he is now an angel looking after me, sitting next to my late dad,” Tino told The Sunday Mail Sport.
Tino, who is settling well at French Ligue 1 giants Lyon, revealed how his fledging football career was inspired by his late brother Prince.
“My first pair of football boots, I got them from Pipi when I was still at Highfield Academy. Before that I used to play barefooted.
“I chose to wear jersey number 14 at the Academy, at Prince Edward High School, with the Under-17 and Under-20 national teams because that was the same jersey number worn by my brother Prince.
“When I went to Sweden, Pipi helped me a lot as he would help me with some drills whenever I came back home.
“To be honest with you, I never really got to watch Prosper, our eldest brother, but I watched Prince play for Monomotapa and Air Zim jets.
“Everyone knows how good Pipi was as a player and I always wanted to be like him.”
Tino also revealed how he managed to immediately secure a flight back to Zimbabwe, given the prevailing coronavirus situation through which flights, especially those into Southern Africa, are limited.
“Ethiopian Airways was the only flight available and my club played a crucial
role in helping me secure the flight on the same day I got news of my brother’s death.
“Olympic Lyon sent their condolences to the family.
They wrote some e-mails to the Zimbabwean football authorities to help me get an exemption to attend my brother’s burial.-The Sunday Mail