WHILE Prince Dube might have joined legends Shackman Tauro, Vitalis Takawira, Peter Ndlovu, Knowledge Musona, Agent Sawu and Gilbert Mushangazhike when he bagged a hat-trick against Mauritius, the memory of that glorious afternoon might be blighted by the unsettling fact that he pulled off his heroics wearing the jersey number 13.
For those on the stands at Emagumeni when Dube finally found his scoring boots in national colours at the home of his club side, Highlanders, the fact that he had the number 13 on the back of his shirt might have meant little.
Dube himself might not have been aware that this is the same number that the country’s football fathers claimed to have retired in 2012 to honour the late great ex-Bosso and Warriors goal poacher, Adam “Adamski” Ndlovu.
Following Adamski’s tragic death in a horrific traffic accident in December 2012, Zifa announced that no Warriors player would wear that jersey as it had been retired in honour of Ndlovu.
While Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela was continuously not reachable, Warriors team manager Wellington Mpandare said he was not aware of the fact that the country football mother body, for the first time in history, decided to retire the famous Warriors jersey number 13.
“As far as I’m concerned I was not notified about the retirement of that jersey. I was not aware of it. Also, from my knowledge, retiring a jersey is not an easy thing. For example, for Afcon and World Cup tournaments you need to register players from number 1 to 23 and you can’t skip any number. Maybe it would need us as a country to engage Fifa and Caf on that. At club level it is very much possible. You can retire certain numbers in honour of players. It is not an easy process. The rules apply to everyone,” said Mpandare.
It would seem, retiring the number 13 jersey by the then Cuthbert Dube-led Zifa executive was a mere public relations stunt at the time to be seen as honouring the late Adamski.
At the 2014 Chan finals in South Africa former Highlanders midfielder Peter “Rio” Moyo wore Adamski’s jersey number 13 in the 2-1 win over Mali in a quarter-final tie, a development which did not go down well with some sections of football stakeholders in the country.
Jersey number 13 was used by Khama Billiat in a friendly match against South Africa in September 2013 at Orlando Stadium in a match the Warriors won 2-1.
In June 2017, dreadlocked Warriors midfielder Thabani Kamusoko was to become the other player that wore the “retired jersey” when Zimbabwe walloped Liberia 3-0 at the National Sports Stadium. As if that was not enough, it was the same jersey that Kamusoko used at the recently concluded Afcon finals in Egypt.
To further show how it is difficult to retire a national team jersey, at the 2019 Afcon finals Cameroon’s Karl Brilliant Toko Ekambi spotted jersey number 17, which after the 2003 horror that saw their star player Marc-Vivien Foé collapse in the middle of a match against Colombia and later dying in hospital, the Indomitable Lions’ football mother body said it had decided to stop using it.
The sudden death of the then 28-year-old, who reportedly had a rare heart condition called “cardiomyopathy hypertrophia”, in the middle of the match, shook the whole footballing world.
At the time of his death, Foe was playing for Manchester City, on loan from Lyon. His parent club Lyon, Manchester City and childhood club Lens decided to retire his jersey number 23 permanently.
Later, Cameroon international Jean Makoun wore Foe’s jersey number while playing for Lyon in remembrance of his friend.