By A Correspondent- Soccer lovers from within and outside the country continue to mourn Dynamos legend and 1980 Soccer Star of the Year David “Yogi” Mandigora, who died in Harare yesterday.
He was 64.
Mandigora, who was the first player to be voted Soccer Star of the Year in independent Zimbabwe, had been battling diabetes for a long time.
His right leg was amputated in October 2017. His condition deteriorated in the last few days, leading to his death in the early hours of yesterday.
Sunday Chidzambwa, one of Mandigora’s closest friends, led the tributes, describing his death as a huge loss to both Dynamos and Zimbabwe.
He said Yogi’s death had dealt a double blow to the Mandigora family, who also lost his elder sister two weeks ago and are in the process of repatriating her body from the United Kingdom.
“We played together at Dynamos and in the national team, and he was always my roommate whenever we went into camp for both teams.
“It so happened that after we were both injured, we decided to venture into coaching.
“His death is a very sad loss to Zimbabwean football and to Dynamos. He did very well with Dynamos at home and in the Champions League, where he reached the semi-finals.
“Yogi was a humble guy, a quiet man who would always focus on what he would be doing,’’ Chidzambwa said.
The country’s most successful coach said it was a saddening development that “death continues to rob us of our legends and experienced people whose wisdom we can always tap from”.
“It is unfortunate that there is nothing we can do… maybe it is God’s wish. Asi rufu chinhu chisinga jairike inasmuch as we have to live with it,’’ he said.
David George, Mandigora’s trusted lieutenant when DeMbare swept into the 2008 Champions League semi-finals, was at a loss for words.
The former Dynamos winger was Mandigora’s assistant when the Glamour Boys secured a semi-final berth from a tough Champions League group that had three past winners of the competition — Al Ahly, Zamalek (Egypt) and Ivorian giants ASEC Mimosas. The team were only stopped by Coton Sport Garoua of Cameroon.
ZIFA also sent in their condolences to the family.
“ZIFA would like to express its sincere condolences to the Mandigora family and the football family at large following the sad and untimely departure of Warriors and Dynamos legend David ‘Yogi’ Mandigora.
“Mandigora served Zimbabwean football with great tenacity and distinction, and that he was crowned Soccer Star of the Year at Independence in 1980 speaks volumes of the great contribution of this wonderful soul to the beautiful game.
“It is very painful that the football fraternity continues to lose such humble characters who have contributed immensely to the development and growth of this game,’’ said ZIFA communications and competitions manager Xolisani Gwesela.
Former referees Felix Tangawarima, Brighton Mudzamiri, Joseph Mususa and Gladmore Muzambi also expressed shock and sadness at the news of Mandigora’s demise.
Ex-Warriors and Chapungu midfielder Kennedy Chihuri, who is now based in England, said the ex-midfielder’s death came at a time when former players had begun pooling resources to assist him with his medical bills.
Former Zimbabwe and CAPS United coach Charles Mhlauri described him as a very knowledgeable and yet unassuming coach from whom he had learnt a lot. Mhlauri appointed the late Willard Mashinkila-Khumalo and Mandigora as his assistants when the Warriors went to the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
“The passing on of David ‘Yogi’ Mandigora saddens me. The game has lost yet another great gentleman of the game.
“We all know he fought a good fight which we all thought he was winning — having lost a leg, he had soldiered on but lost the battle on some glad day.
“Despite us having spent time in opposite dugouts, he was such an easy-going character at Dynamos while I was at CAPS.
“We would always meet almost every lunch hour in Milton Park for lunch at Joe ‘Pajero’ Musenda’s restaurant. It was his humble character that drew me closer to him.
“Yogi was a guy whose career defines not only the history of Dynamos, but football in Zimbabwe.
“He was a man who paid attention to detail, but never used the level of his voice to enhance his point. Cool as a cucumber all the time,’’ Mhlauri said.
Mandigora, he added, was a selfless character who always wanted the best for Zimbabwean football.
“When I chose an assistant coach, he was among the people I consulted, including Sunday Chidzambwa.
“He showed great maturity…he could have raised his hand for the position, but did not. Instead, he suggested other names, most of them not comparable to his experience.
“This defines his selfless character where he put the needs of others before his.
“His willingness to help was excellent. I had always admired him at Dynamos, and even when we crossed paths when he was at Lancashire Steel and I was at AmaZulu, he came across as a straightforward guy.
“Indeed, he was man of his word. As we sat at that table at Raylton Sports Club discussing possible assistant coaches I could bring to the national team, not on a single moment did he even raise his hand, but kept trying hard to assist with names.
“Sunday did most of the talking, and the two, you could see they had come a long way and had a natural understanding.
“As time would have it, I eventually settled for David Mandigora and Willard Khumalo to be my assistants, and we became family.
“Our union was blessed with a mutual understanding and defined by common objectives.
“There were times when the discussion became tough, as happens in soccer, not to mention the arrival Dick De Boer, a Dutch coach whom I had fished out of Holland.”
Mhlauri added that when things got heated, Yogi would take a moment to smoke a cigarette.
“He loved his cigarettes.
“Every time after a meeting, he would be the first to leave the conference room. It took me a while to understand that it was out of respect to the group. Instead, he wanted a little private moment to enjoy his cigar.
“He was always on hand on the bench, oozing with so much confidence and experience from his playing and coaching days that had started when I was still an apprentice at Zimbabwe Saints Juniors under my coach, the late Jani Gwede.
“He was a true gentleman. He never stuck out his head to get credit. He just did the work.
“There are two types of managers: Those who do the work and those who get the credit. Yogi did the job.
“My thoughts and prayers to his family and I will forever miss Yogi.”