Community trailblazers: Ndlovu brothers, heroes in Zim and beyond

Ndlovu brothers

THIS week, it’s three local football heroes, a family that is one of the country’s most popular trailblazers.

Zimbabwean football history prides itself with the talents of the Ndlovu brothers, Madinda, the late Adam and Peter.

The siblings were a key part of the Reinhard Fabisch-coached Warriors strike force that claimed the scalps of continental giants Egypt and Cameroon.

The youngest, Peter, wrote history in 1992 as the first African to play in the new English Premier League (EPL).

He was also the first African to score in that same league in Coventry City’s 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspurs.

For the avoidance of doubt, Peter’s debut season a year before, was the last for the old English league system.

He later played for Birmingham City, Huddersfield Town and Sheffield United.

Talented African players who also dominated the EPL include Jay Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu, Didier Drogba, Anthony Yeboah, Michael Essien, Yaya Toure, Mahomed Salah and Sadio Mane.

This week I spoke to Peter, the former Mzilikazi High School footballer who since his debut for Bosso in 1988 went on to be a legend at Highlanders.

It is his trailblazing 16 years donning the national football team jersey that will remain etched in the memories of his fellow countrymen.

He is now team manager of South African  side Mamelodi Sundowns.

My chat with Peter is a matter for another day, all I can say is that Nsukuzonke is very humble.

No wonder this trailblazer would always put his country first during his playing days.

Earlier on I had interviewed his elder brother Madinda, a   legend at Highlanders and the Warriors.

Because of his speed, which gave defenders a torrid time, he was nicknamed Khathazile, the troublesome one.

Madinda, later played for West German First Division side Emsdetien 05.

Contrary to popular opinion, Madinda stressed to me that he is not the eldest in their family.

Neither are the famous trio, the only ones to play football.

“My two older brothers Martin and Marko also played football, but I became more famous and opened  the gates for other family members such as the late Adam and the most talked about Peter Nsukuzonke.

Madinda humbly added that it was a dream come true as they were the first family to provide the nation with three brothers at the same time at national level. 

“My two elder brothers were equally good, just that they didn’t take football serious as I did.”

Madinda said it was Adam who  hit the nets more than any of the Ndlovus.

While at Highlanders in the early 90s Adam missed signing for Coventry City in 1991.

Following trials with Manchester United, he played for Swiss sides, SR Delemont  and FC Zurich  before returning home to rejoin his boyhood club Bosso  in 2001.

In his Warriors debut at the Africa Cup of Nations, he scored one goal against Algeria the first of the 34  in 79 national team appearances.

Adam passed on in a road traffic accident in 2012 when he was the Chicken Inn coach.

Madinda also singled out the Dream Team Era and Battle of Zimbabwe derbies pitting his team  Highlanders against  arch-rivals Dynamos.

“It was very exciting playing against DeMbare because it was always very tense and very emotional hence self-motivating,” he said.

“When the going got tough they expected me to lead by my speed  and ability to dribble, I remember, against Dynamos Oliver Kateya (MHSRIP).

At national team level, he never wanted to miss Fabisch’s team,  that was his best ever national team.

Madinda also attributes the successes of the Dream Team to Fabisch’s assistants, Roy Barreto and Sunday Marimo now Chidzambwa.

“The two locals became the most revered coaches and later successfully took over the reins as national team coaches.

At his team Highlanders, he gave kudos to juniors coach Alibaba Dube for grooming him and his younger brothers.

“I didn’t mentor my brothers but I think they just took the family gift to a higher position. Of course I opened the doors for Adam and Peter,” said Madinda.

“Ali is the man behind our success because he coached all three of us at junior level at Bosso, so credit should go to him, we are so grateful.”

Dube is what Alois Patsika was to CAPS and Daniel Dhidhidi Ncube was to Dynamos.

Those three great coaches from the country’s three biggest teams, who are now all late, groomed youngsters to be the best.

After hanging his boots, Madinda became a coach.

In Botswana he clinched three consecutive league titles with two different clubs.

“Being a player and a coach are two very different situations because as a coach you now see things differently and are more mature  tactically,” he said.

His message on the future of local football, “It shouldn’t end with the Ndlovu or Chunga brothers.

“Football administrators must open more of the schools of excellence and academies to teach our young people to become a better nation.

The trailblazing Ndlovu family belongs to the Hall of Fame of any local football or community-related award.

Who knows?

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