King George's big send-off

Chigova died of a suspected heart ailment at his home in South Africa.

Football fans and stakeholders yesterday gave departed former Warriors and Dynamos goalkeeper a big send-off as his remains were buried in his home town, Chivhu.

Chigova died of a suspected heart ailment at his home in South Africa last week.

The hearse carrying his body drove through the dusty central business streets of the small town, as the public paid their final respects to the ex- football star.

A convoy of over 100 cars accompanied the hearse from his family home and thousands of fans joined the procession to say their last goodbye to their ambassador.

A church service was held at Garwe Stadium before the casket, draped in a Dynamos flag, was carried to Chivhu cemetery where the he was buried next to his parents.

Among those who attended the funeral was Chigova's best friend, Khama Billiat.

Several of Chigova's former teammates including Evans and Tafadzwa Rusike, Onismor Bhasera, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Tawanda Muparati, Wonder Sithole, Norman Maroto, Munyaradzi Diya and Patson Jaure also attended.

Former Warriors gaffer Norman Mapeza led the group of coaches who included Saul Chaminuka, Gilbert Mushangazhike, Daniel Veremu, Patridge Muskwe and Tichaona Diya to witness the burial.

Dynamos was well represented with the full executive present, while officials from Zifa and Footballers Union of Zimbabwe and Harare City former chief executive Tafadzwa Basera were other notable attendees.

SuperSport of South Africa, the last league club Chigova played for, also had representatives at the funeral.

Billiat was among people who addressed mourners while former Warriors team manager Wellington Mpandare felt Chigova was given a "befitting send-off."

"I only have good memories for George, we celebrated life together," Billiat said. "George was a very patient guy, and always had time for people. That is why he was a likeable character. George loved to play for his nation so much he didn't hide it. This is a great loss for the nation. All the moments that we spent with George were memorable. I couldn't exchange them for anything.

“He is someone I trusted so much and was very prayerful. I want to thank everyone for coming to celebrate George's life," he told the mourners.

Mpandare, who worked with Chigova from the Under-23 level up to the senior national team, was also happy with the respect that was accorded to the late goalkeeper.

"I'm happy with the turnout here. This only proves that George was a man of the people. He was loved by everyone, and that is why you see some people came all the way from South Africa to bid their farewell."

One of the most moving moments of the day came when Chigova's wife Noku addressed the huge crowd, thanking them for giving her husband an "emotional farewell."

Chigova died in his sleep at his home in South Africa last week due to heart complications, leaving behind Noku and three daughters.

His body was flown to Harare on Wednesday morning and was received by scores of people at the airport including family members, relatives, former and current players and other football officials.

A funeral procession was held at Rufaro Stadium on Thursday, the venue where he made his name before moving to South Africa.

Chigova was renowned for his goalkeeping prowess, having played for 13 seasons in Zimbabwe and South Africa, turning out for big clubs such as Dynamos and SuperSport.

He helped the Warriors win the Cosafa Cup in 2018 where he was voted the best goalkeeper of the tournament, and was also the team's first choice keeper at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Egypt.

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