Mapeza praises Wiesław Grabowski’s mentorship

Sports / Soccer

Mapeza praises Wiesław Grabowski’s mentorship

by Staff reporter



NORMAN Mapeza has lauded the role Wiesław Grabowski played in mentoring and nurturing him into the star he later became both as a player and a coach.

Grabowski, a Polish expatriate, is responsible for the careers of some of the best footballers to ever emerge from Zimbabwe through his Darryn Textiles outfit.

Based in the dormitory town of Chitungwiza just 25km outside of Harare, DT as the team was known, was the launchpad for some of domestic football’s biggest names like Lloyd Chitembwe, Musareka Jenitala, Stuart Murisa, Alois Bunjira, Patrick Daka, Dumisani Mpofu, Gift Muzadzi, Edelbert Dinha, Prince Matore, Elliot Matsika and Shingirai Kawondera.

However, Mapeza is probably the team’s biggest export after going on to reach the pinnacle of the sport in Europe and captaining the Warriors at the same time.

After impressing at DT, Mapeza first moved to Europe when he signed for Polish side Sokol Pniewy in 1993.
After only one season in Poland, the young Mapeza was snapped up by Turkish giants Galatasaray which was a big step for the utility player from Chitungwiza.

Mapeza went on to curve a remarkable career for himself which also saw him play for clubs like Ankaragucu, Altay S.K, Canakkale Dardanelspor, Canakkale Dardanelspor and Malatyaspor in Turkey.
He also had a stint in Austria with SV Ried im Innkreis before finally ending his playing career with Ajax Cape Town in South Africa back in 2006 which was preceded by a shot spell back home at CAPS United in 2003.

After the successful playing career, Mapeza has gone onto become one of the finest coaches in Zimbabwean football which has delivered two leagues titles with FC Platinum (2017 and 2018) and the defunct Monomotapa (2008).

Last year, he was on course to land his third straight title with Pure Platinum Play before leaving the club in September to join Chippa United in South Africa.
When he arrived at the Chilli Boys, they were bottom of the log before turning around the situation completely.
When he quit the club at the start of March, Chippa were now in 11th place on the log and five points above the relegation zone.

Now back at home, Mapeza is grateful for everything he has been able to achieve in a career which was made all possible by the faith Grabowski showed in him as a young man.

“Grabowski did a lot for so many players for instance…Chitembwe and…Dinha both at one point of their careers played in Poland and a whole lot of other players so I really want to thank him because he gave us an opportunity,” Mapeza told the Daily News on Sunday.

“Going to Europe was one of my best moments and playing for Zimbabwe. Me and Sunday Chidzambwa played for the national team, we became captains and went on to coach the national team as well which is a rare achievement indeed.

“Some of the players that I played with are into coaching as well which means we had a proper grooming and mentorship.

“Perhaps my only regret is that I didn’t manage to win a league as a player but I’m grateful to God that he gave me a career and I’m grateful for my family.”

At Galatasaray, the Zimbabwean was introduced to Champions League in his first season after they qualified for the group stages and were pooled together with European football aristocrats Barcelona and Manchester United together with Swedish side IFK Goteborg.

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November 23, 1994 will remain one of Mapeza’s greatest nights in the club’s gold and yellow shirt when he kept quiet Brazilian forward Romario when Barcelona travelled to Ali Sami Yen Stadium in Istanbul.

The Turkish side won that game 2-1 before an 18 375 capacity crowd against a Barca side that also featured the likes of Pep Guardiola, Guillermo Armo, Hristo Stoichkov, Eusebio, Jose Mario Bakero, Albert Ferrer, Miguel Angel Nadal while Ronald Koeman was the captain.

Carles Busquets, the father for current Barcelona midfielder Sergio, was between the sticks for the Catalan giants.

“At that time it was a great experience (playing against Romario and crew); Brazil had just won the World Cup and playing against him and more other stars in that Barcelona side was more than a dream come true,” Mapeza recalled.

The Man United team the Istanbul giants faced in the Champions League featured the likes of Mark Hughes, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, Paul Ince, Nicky Butt and Andrey Kanchelskis.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side also comprised stars like Lee Sharpe, Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister, David May and Peter Schmeichel.

To show how good that United side was David Beckham, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Gary Walsh and Paul Parker were all on the bench when the English giants visited to Ali Sami Yen Stadium.

“We also played against a strong Manchester United side in our group so it was not a stroll in the park we really needed to be at our level best,” Mapeza said.

Looking back at the time he played and captained the Warriors in the 90s, Mapeza has a lot of fond memories.
“It’s always a great honour to captain a national team and getting that responsibility because at the end of the day you can’t be a captain without a responsibility,” he said.

“I think they had seen that I had the leadership qualities and I was well supported by my teammates who made the task simpler.

“Leading a self-motivated side that wanted nothing but football and were proud of putting on that badge was all I could ask for as their captain and together we formed formidable combinations that are still being talked of today.”

That Warriors side coached by Germany expatriate Reinhard Fabisch and popularly known as the “Dream Team” is still the talk of the nation.

Some of Mapeza’s teammates included his predecessor as skipper Ephraim Chawanda, Bruce Grobbelaar, Mercedes “Rambo” Sibanda (late), Paul Gundani (late), Benjamin Nkonjera (late), Willard Khumalo (late), Rahman Gumbo, Memory Mucherahowa, John Phiri, Peter Ndlovu, Vitalis Takawira, Henry McKop, Agent Sawu, Wilfred Mugeyi and Brenna Msiska.

“During our days with Fabisch, it wasn’t easy to make it into the team; we only had 16 players in that squad,” Mapeza said.

“Of course we never achieved anything in terms of qualifying (for major tournaments) but in terms of the level of play, we had one of the best national squad and it was disheartening losing 3-1 to Cameron in that (1994) World Cup final qualifier; that’s how we were close from reaching the World Cup.”

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Source – dailynews




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