AFTER spending 11 years in exile, former Zimbabwe and Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce "Jungleman" Grobbelaar says he is happy to set his foot on Zimbabwean soil again and has set his sight on helping the country reclaim their place at the top of Africa's football echelons. Grobbelaar arrived in the country yesterday and has scheduled a meeting with President Mnangagwa to present a raft of proposals for investment from his overseas partners.
The 60-year-old Liverpool and Zimbabwe legend, who is currently compiling an autobiography, is travelling with his ghost writer Ragnhild Lund Ansnes, a Norwegian journalist who is also the official writer of Liverpool Football Club books. Ansnes will document the meeting with President Mnangagwa for possible inclusion in the autobiography which will chronicle all the critical details of the life of the eccentric former goalkeeper.
The book is expected to be published later this year around September. "This is my first time to be back home since 2007 and I am very happy to be back here in Zimbabwe after 11 years. What can I say, it brings nostalgic memories, being here again. I hope to be continuously in touch because I want to assist my country in every way possible.
"Right now I have come for a dialogue with President Emmerson Mnangagwa. We have booked a meeting with his office to talk business. "I have with me some investors from abroad who are interested in investing in the country. They have big plans to build schools, academies and shopping malls," said Grobbelaar.
"The last time I was here was in 2007 when I was asked to come and help out with the Warriors, but then there was a fallout with the former President (Robert Mugabe) when I asked if they could pay me in forex.
"The former President called and told me that forex was a problem in Zimbabwe. Because of that deadlock, the former President asked me not to come here again. That's why I have been away this long. But now the new President has invited me back and I am here. I will do my utmost best to help my country," he added.
Grobbelaar's name is a household name in Zimbabwe football circles just like it is in Liverpool when he made 628 appearances for the Anfield side over a period of 13 years. During his stint he featured in 440 league games, won the League championship with the club six times, as well as three FA Cups, three League Cups and the 1983-84 European Cup.
He was an integral part of Reinhard Fabisch's Dream Team which boosted the Warriors brand during the 1990s. He had started his career at Highlanders and Chibuku Shumba before moving to South Africa where the doors to Europe opened for him. What followed was a glowing career at the top level spanning nearly 20 years.
However, the lowest point of his career was when he was accused of being part of a ring in a match fixing scandal which he was later cleared of. Yesterday Grobbelaar visited his former primary school David Livingstone and later had several meetings with old friends and some politicians.
Grobbelaar, a qualified coach, said he was available to assist the national football team if his services were required. He has coached Zimbabwe in the past. "I am quite open to come back and help out on the football front whenever my input is required.
"As former players we are very keen to contribute in every way possible to the development of football and to take Zimbabwean football to the standards that we all need, which is qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations consistently and also the World Cup. But right now I cannot discuss that because I have not been approached. So it's a story for another day."
Grobbelaar also believes Zimbabwean football has great potential with more sponsors coming on board and improved management. "I think the Warriors are playing good football. They beat Liberia 3-0 and their campaign in the AFCON qualifiers look bright.
"But the players need good organisation, a steady coach and a plan for the next five to 10 years. The players need to be treated well and equally when they come in camp as professionals. We need football identity from the juniors up to the senior level because we cannot go anywhere when the Under-17s, Under-20s, Under-23 and the senior Warriors playing different style of football," he said.