Tributes for the late Willard “Mashinkila” Khumalo who died on Saturday evening continued yesterday with former teammates and administrators speaking highly of the football legend.
BY THANDIWE MOYO
Khumalo succumbed to heart failure at United Bulawayo Hospital.
Highlanders chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede led the tributes describing Khumalo as a, “true ambassador and a fine gentleman”.
“He has left a huge void at Highlanders and the football fraternity at large. He was more than a player and he shall remain a role model,” he said.
Gumede said the burial date had been tentatively set for Thursday although it had not been finalised.
“Thursday August 27 has been set as the tentative date for burial and all members wishing to contribute should do so at the Highlanders office,” he said.
Also paying tribute to the late football icon were the South Africa based Highlanders supporters, who said he was one of the greatest legends produced by the club.
“We express our deepest condolences to both the Khumalo family and Highlanders Football Club,” said chairman of the supporters, Daniel Molekele.
He said they were organising transport for supporters who wanted to travel to Bulawayo for the funeral.
Highlanders Former Players’ Association chairman Douglas Mloyi said: “We have lost a member of our association. He was a humble man and we played football and worked together well. It is the Lord’s wish.”
Football Union of Zimbabwe secretary Paul Gundani described Khumalo as the finest footballer in the nation.
“He was a great leader, not only at Highlanders, but Lancashire Steel and Mwana Africa as well as the national team,” he said.
Zifa president Cuthbert Dube described the passing on of Mashinkila-Khumalo as a big loss to the game.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of Willard a true legend who was impressive for the Warriors and Highlanders whenever he was called to duty. Zifa is in mourning with his family, friends and the local football family as everyone grapples with this shocking loss,” he said in a statement issued by his office.
Former Highlanders star Netsai Moyo said the former Dream Team midfielder still had a lot to offer to the game at the time of his death.
“He was a good coach and produced results. We played together from the juniors and he helped groom some of us. It is unfortunate we would have reaped a lot from him as he still had lot to offer in football,” he said.
Former Highlanders coach Kelvin Kaindu who is now with Triangle also sent out his condolences.
“He did a lot for Zimbabwe football. I have always worked well with him but people should avoid only talking good about people when they are dead and always speak well about them,” he said.