Miracle man Shoko ready to run

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AFTER spending three soccer seasons on the sidelines due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury, Simon Shoko’s career seemed to have ended prematurely.

BY TERRY MADYAUTA

Football had almost forgotten about him, yet his recovery has finally presented a happy ending to an otherwise sorry story.

A maiden call-up to the national team, turned out to be one of the darkest spots of his life story.

A nasty collision with striker Evans Rusike in 2017 during a Warriors training session condemned Shoko to the sidelines and to the wheelchair.’

Yet three years on, the 33-year-old is up and running, looking forward to the start of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) like all other players.

That he was injured on his first national team call-up remains a source of anguish for the FC Platinum player who has since been loaned out to Whawha.

How the Zvishavane-bred player managed to recover remains a miracle considering the gravity of the injury as well as the long spell he spent on the sidelines.

Had the PSL not been halted by the coronavirus-induced lockdown, Shoko could have made his return and debut at newbies Whawha where he was loaned by FC Platinum, but events of his ordeal are far from being a forgotten past.

NewsDay Sport caught up with Shoko who described his recovery as a miracle.

“Just being idle and be unable to do anything was very painful for me. I almost quit this game because I continually asked myself: why me? But many people were there to encourage me and give me hope, especially FC Platinum team physiotherapist Edgar Chibvunze,” said Shoko.

“Everyone in my family was disappointed and saddened when they learnt of my injury because they were looking forward to seeing me on television playing against Liberia. It was a breakthrough to be called to the national team by Norman Mapeza, but it turned to be the greatest nightmare.

“My family stood by me, but mentally this injury affected me. I could have quit, but the support I received gave me hope.

“I could not even go to the stadiums and watch FC Platinum play, it was torture.”
However he was quick to point out that although he had been devastated, he was now focused on pursuing his career’s revival.
“I was not bitter or upset with Evans (Rusike) because what happened was not planned, it was in training and I could not give anyone the blame because we are prone to injuries because ours is a contact sport.

“But at that time what was painful and difficult to accept was that I was unable to walk and play the game that helped me feed my family.”

He also gave credit to FC Platinum for standing by him during the spell.

“Had it not for this club, I could have been still limping or be in a wheelchair. They took care of me even when I was not contributing to the team.

“They still managed to take care of me, something which many clubs would have failed.

“Chibvunze kept helping me, and I am grateful to his efforts. His training and physical excercises helped me recover. The process was slow but now I am fit and ready to play and get back to my old self at Whawha where I am on loan,” said Shoko.

Shoko joins a list of other local footballers who suffered career-threatening injuries, either keeping them out of the game for long spells or ending their careers altogether.

In 1988, Shacky Tauro was forced to end his playing career and became a coach following a nasty injury.

Dynamos Desmond Maringwa spent years on the sidelines following a knee injury and even when he returned to competitive football, he was no longer the same player he was before he suffered the injury.

Samson Choruwa picked up a knee injury in a league match against Masvingo United before aggravating it during training which also halted his promising football career at an early age.

Another fine talent, Zhaimu Jambo was forced to end his career at Kaizer Chiefs due to injury, which he sustained under the boots of former Zimbabwe midfielder Tinashe Nengomasha at training.

Former Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambga also adds to that list