NQOBIZITHA Maenzanise, the former Highlanders, AmaZulu and Zimbabwe Saints dribbling wizard was a man full of humour and a strong character from his youth, which at times led to many of his peers and even his coaches failing to understand him.
Eccentric might be the word to best describe the charismatic Maenzanise, nicknamed Humpty.
The former Warriors legend, who played for quite a number clubs in the city that included Merlin Husky, Olympics and Chrome Stars in the Midlands, died last Sunday night at Mpilo Hospital after suffering from tuberculosis and diabetes.
But even after his death, many did not stop to speak of the comical lifestyle that the football legend led and made him a darling of many albeit incomprehensible.
His coach at Highlanders juniors, Cosmas Tsano, who also took him to the Bosso senior team and coached him at AmaZulu, spoke glowingly of Maenzanise and his antics.
“At one time when I took the Highlanders Under-18 squad to Scotland for the Aberdeen Festival, Maenzanise flirted with a white girl at the hotel where we were staying and the woman told her boyfriend about it,” Zulu said.
Her boyfriend then came straight to the hotel and Nqobizitha was nowhere to be found and as the leader of the team, I was the one who was caught up in the trouble,” Tsano said.
“During one match he threatened to assault Adam “Adamski” Ndlovu (the late) saying he was wasting chances and Adam cried and wanted to be substituted at half time but he continued and he scored in the second half together with Nqo and we eventually won the tournament.
“Nqobizitha approached me later and said: “See it worked, I wasn’t going to beat him up, I was just joking”, Zulu said in incessant laughter as he mourned Maenzanise.
That was in 1987 in foreign land in Scotland, when Maenzanise was still a teenager and was top goal scorer and player of the tournament.
Zulu says at one time, after a Bosso senior team training session, he and then head coach Barry Daka were to announce the team that was to play in a league match at the weekend and was to go into in camp, Maenzanise disappeared and went home and did not join the rest of the players, let alone tell anyone that he was leaving.
Former Amazulu director Delma Lupepe, speaking at Maenzanise’s burial said at one time, the player tapped the posterior of an air hostess in flight when they were coming from Harare and got into trouble with the flight authorities.
At one time on radio the interviewer said to Maenzanise: “Humpty, you were the only player that was outstanding in today’s match and the legend quipped: “Yeah, at times that is why I prefer to play singles tennis, where I will blame myself both in victory and in defeat.”
At one time at Barbourfields, being the accurate passer he was and skillful ball juggler, he let off a screaming shot straight at referee Godfrey Kandawasvika and many football fans wondered whether it had been a genuine mistake or Maenzanise had done it deliberately to spite the match official.
When he was engaged at Bulawayo Arsenal as coach in the mid-2000s, Maenzanise is said to have asked one of the players in the team to come and collect a short at his house after realising that the boy had no proper training kit.
The boy found Maenzanise at a vantage point on the rooftop at his house in Mzilikazi, puffing smoke at what looked like a cigarette.
He never watched Premier Soccer League football and according to his friend Nkosana “Santsho” Gumbo, whom he played with at AmaZulu and Chikwata, Maenzanise said football players these days were not serious.
At the time of his death, Maenzanise had converted to Christianity and been baptized at the Baptist Church in Bulawayo, where he collapsed and was taken to hospital three weeks ago. He was admitted there until his death.
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