HomeSportFootballMukwesha’s date with Eusebio

Mukwesha’s date with Eusebio

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IN OCTOBER 1966, a then 25-year-old Dynamos forward Freddy Mukwesha made his first step on a journey for a date with football stars when he embarked on a road trip to Mozambique en route to Portugal.

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Before flying to Portugal where he was due to sign for Sporting dé Braga, he needed to conduct medicals in Maputo first before flying to Braga via Lisbon and Porto.

His late former Dynamos teammate Morrison Sifelani drove him to Maputo in the company of the late Armando Ferreira and little did he know that he was on his way to eat on the same table with World Cup legend Eusebio and Portugal captain Mario Coluna.

It was at a time when the late Eusebio was a global football soundtrack after top-scoring at the 1966 Fifa World Cup with nine goals for Portugal and also having been named Europe’s best player the previous season.

Mozambique-born Eusebio died in Lisbon seven days ago at 71.

With Portugal finishing the 1966 World Cup on third place, Mukwesha was ecstatic that he was going to rub shoulders with the world’s best.

But little did he know that he would not only play along or against them, but dine with them.

He on various times had dinner with Eusebio and Coluna who like Eusebio, was born in Mozambique.

“During off seasons we would meet as Africans to eat funchi (sadza) and galinha (chicken),” Mukwesha said.

“We were a small group of Africans and we would look for each other for get-togethers. There were others from Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau, but guys from Angola and Mozambique and I were too familiar with funchi. Eusebio liked funchi a lot.

“He was a very down to earth person and very quiet and at one time we ate at his modest apartment in Lisbon. We all liked him. We would talk and talk about football.”

The script of his trip to stardom began when Sporting Braga toured the country to play then Rhodesia in 1965 at Glamis Stadium.

As a striker, Mukwesha was menacing on that afternoon and Sporting dé Braga wasted no time to put him on top of their priority signings before eventually capturing their man the following year.

“CAPS Holdings brought me back home and I could not decline being their employee,” he said.

Mukwesha’s humorous side comes out when he talks about his return to Portugal a decade later on a visit.

Short-memory betrays the 72-year-old as he even forgets the ages of his four children he sired with his ex-Portuguese wife Emelia Pashoto Lobo.

“I had left a family back there so I went to see them in 1994. I had a wife and four children, two boys and two girls. There is Paulo but we call him Pulinho and then Freddy junior who we refer to as Fredinho. The girls are Belinha which is short for Isabel and also Ufelia who people call Felinha.

“Belinha visited this country with her mother in 1985 and they have never been here since then. I am no longer in touch with Emelia but I sometimes talk to my children.”

During our interview at Raylton Sports Club last Thursday, Mukwesha was seated next to an ever-smiling Dynamos legend George Shaya who in our one and half long chat gulped three Lion Lager beers.

Mukwesha also had two children with mbira sensation Ambuya Stella Chiweshe.

None of his children or grandchildren followed his footsteps of playing football.

“Even vakuru ava (Shaya) vane vana vakawanda asi hapana kana one ari kutamba bhora asi yaiva shasha. Zvakaramba asi taida kuti vana nedu vatambewo. (Even this gentleman has many children but none of them played football despite him being a star. We wanted our children to be footballers but it could not happen),” he said as Shaya nodded in agreement with a beaming smile.

A visibly tipsy Shaya at one time interjected our interview, profusely asking us permission to let him go outside for a smoke of his favourite Kingsgate although he was not tied to us.

Eusebio

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