Where are they now?

Melusi Ndebele got his first league action for Highlanders owing to an injury to former tough-as-teak defender Cleopas Dlodlo in 1993.

Rock at the back - Melusi Ndebele
Rock at the back – Melusi Ndebele

“I was selected from the Under-17 team to come and cover for him for a match in which I played with Melusi Nkiwane, Mercedes Sibanda, Abraham Mbambo and Dumisani Nyoni,” said the 34-year-old former Bosso leftback, who went on to be nicknamed “Stina” because of his strong build. Having made that professional debut at 16 years of age, Ndebele went on to shine for Zimbabwe at both junior and senior international level, but it was with Bosso that he won most of his accolades. He recently told The Zimbabwean that unity, discipline and determination helped the Bulawayo giants to be what they are still famed for today – winning trophies as one of the league’s most-feared teams. “It was very difficult making it to the first team then, considering that the majority of the players were part of the dream team, which was tormenting African giants. I managed a few games in my first season, but things soured at Highlanders and most senior players left the club and I soon became a regular.”

“By then, we were not winning anything, and I remember us fighting relegation in 1997 under Madinda Ndlovu, who was trying to rebuild the team.”

Rahman Gumbo took over the reigns towards the end of that season, restoring Bosso to their glory days with a fight that saw them rise to end the season in second position, behind eventual champions Dynamos.

That was the beginning of a fairy-tale run for the Bulawayo giants, which saw them lift the championship the following season and then three more times, to become the only side to have done that since the PSL began.

“Everybody put on spirited performances in every match and we turned Barbourfields into the monsters’ den during those days,” added Ndebele. Still missing the cheers from Highlanders fans, especially those from the famous “Soweto stand”, he singled out Amini Soma-Phiri as his greatest motivator and main man behind his success. Ndebele got his first national team cap under Bruce Grobbelaar in 1998, and he went to win 12 caps before he bowed to a muscle injury and quit the game in 2003. A veteran of many battles for Bosso, Caps United and Zimbabwe, Ndebele now runs his own construction company, Mzansi Painters.

“We are into property buying and selling. We also do construction and we would love to expand the company into Zimbabwe sometime. We have been doing well since I arrived in SA in 2005.”

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