By Japhet ‘Short Cat’ Mparutsa
The Mastermind is no more and he leaves us with great memories.
I was 18 when I moved from Harare Hospital Football Club to join Dynamos in 1981. By that time Mudhara George as we called him was very close to retirement.
His replacements had already been recruited, the late Steve Kwashi and to a great extent July “Jujuju” Sharara.
The two had big shoes to fill. They tried their best but to be honest there was only one George Shaya. The man was special, irreplaceable so to speak. Noone could play like him.
I was privileged to train and play with the great man briefly in 1981. He was a man of few words. When we travelled to Kadoma to play Rio Tinto, I sat next to him.
“Hallo sonny!” is all he said before he pulled out his novel and started reading. All the way to Kadoma he said nothing else.
At Kadoma Ranch hotel, again we shared the same room. “Good night sonny!” he said tucking himself in his bed. His novel next to him. He loved reading!
I can safely say we played together for not more than 4 matches. I arrived as he departed but what an honour to have been in the same team with him.
He tried his hand at coaching but I think the level that he expected of his players was too high. He expected them to be as good as he was and to make better decisions on the pitch.
I remember one day at training, one player dribbled past everyone but his cross hit the side netting. Mudhara George shook his head in frustration.. “Why… You have done all the good work and you do that.. Why?” He just could not understand the poor decisions that some players made.
Because he himself was the Mastermind, he expected everyone to be just as smart. But the levels of talent were different. Noone could reach his level. So he soon gave up coaching.
Zimbabwe Football has lost an icon, a man who deserves to be honoured with even a statue, a football stand named after or even a street name.
Under normal circumstances, this should have happened a long time ago but it did not. It is sad!
I want to extend my gratitude to those who helped the icon when his health deteriorated. Dairiboard provided a vehicle for him and other forms of support, others chipped in with groceries. This should be applauded.
Shaya is a National Treasure and his legacy should be protected.
Rest in peace Mudhara George, The Mastermind!!
Blessings to you..