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Josta hangs boots

Josta's retirement draws to a close a career which has all — highs, lows, controversy, and a lot of on and off-field disciplinary problems.

FORMER Warriors star Joel "Josta" Ngodzo has retired from professional football, at the age of 35, after his contract with Caps United was not renewed at the end of last year.

The former Highlanders and Caps United man told NewsDay Sport in an exclusive interview that his decision to quit football was not influenced by any injuries or fitness concerns.

Josta's retirement draws to a close a career which has all — highs, lows, controversy, and a lot of on and off-field disciplinary problems.

“I have decided to hang up my boots. It's a decision I had to make," Josta said.

“I came to this decision after my deal with Caps United ended on December 31. I have made the choice, even if it wasn't easy. It is not about any injury or fitness issues, but I have just decided to quit playing football. I am not sure of my next move as yet and I am not certain if I will venture into coaching or not, but as a man, I have to do something to provide for the family.”

An immensely talented midfielder, and arguably one of the best players of his generation, Josta did naughty things throughout his career, most of which saw him unable to fulfil his true potential.

A creative genius, blessed with outstanding natural football ability, the midfielder regularly fell out with coaches due to indiscipline.

Ngodzo was promoted to the Highlanders senior team in 2009 and immediately shone like a beacon in his debut campaign.

In that campaign, he was simply brilliant, and it felt as if he could be anything he wanted to be.

Cash-rich FC Platinum came knocking for his signature the following season, splashing a record US$60 000 fee to sign the artistic midfielder.

Josta was just 20 years old and already earmarked as the brightest young talent in the land. He was even touted as the next Peter Ndlovu. There, it appears, was the problem.

The burden of Ndlovu comparison, fame, attention, and the newly found fortune at such a tender age proved to be just too much, and reports emerged of him involved in beer binges in Zvishavane.

After a rather underwhelming stay at Mandava, Josta rejoined Highlanders at the end of his four year contract.

He was criticised by then Bosso coach Bongani Mafu for his poor diet.

Josta did not stay longer as he moved to Harare to join Caps United in 2015, where his career was revived, helping the Green Machine to win the league championship in 2016.

His biggest personal recognition came in 2019 when he was deservedly named Castle Lager Soccer Star of Year following an outstanding season in which he scored 10 goals to help Caps United finish as  runners-up in the league title race.

Josta’s sterling performance attracted interest from Zambian side Buildcon in 2020 for his first foreign gig.

But things did not work out for Ngodzo in Lusaka as he failed to break into the team’s starting XI, as issues of his weight and indiscipline cropped up again.

A season later, he resurfaced at his boyhood team Highlanders but had a fallout with coach Baltemar Brito who could not certify him fit for the squad.

In July 2022 and after spending just six months in Bulawayo, he was released.

“We just decided to release him because we don’t mind about the status of a player, but we are only worried about performance and we felt that he could not fit what was required for the position that he played," Brito said. "We know that he is big here but we don’t care about that status, we care about performance.”

Ngodzo retraced his footsteps back to Harare to rejoin Caps United but his stay was also a short and tumultuous one, which was blamed on his off-field behaviour, alcohol abuse to be specific. The Green Machine's patience on Josta, in the end, ran out, and they decided against renewing his contract at the end of the season last year.

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