Zimbabwean football yesterday woke up to some depressing news following the death of Douglas Tanyanyiwa, a former Dynamos benefactor and owner of ex-Premiership football club Douglas Warriors. He was 64.
Tanyanyiwa, who has been unwell for some time, died in the morning yesterday, a day after he had an operation on his leg.
A family member said mourners are gathered at No. 15 Skymaster Drive, Ridgeview, in Harare.
Mourners are expected to leave for his rural home this afternoon ahead of the burial that has been set for tomorrow in Chivhu.
Former Dynamos chairman Simon Makaza yesterday said Zimbabwe football had lost one of its pillars considering the sacrifices he made to develop the game at the turn of the century.
"The news came as a great shock to me because this is a man I have known for so many years. He was so passionate about football.
"He invested a lot of resources to develop the game. Needless to mention that he produced a number of players that went on to play for the national team.
"And, besides owning his own club, he was a Dynamos supporter through and through. He did much for the club and I can say we worked very well with him during our days at the club.
"We are only left with the pain, Dougie has run his race. We will remember him as a dedicated and loyal servant of football," said Makaza.
Tanyanyiwa bailed out the Harare giants on countless occasions during one of their most successful period of the late '90s, including one incident when the Glamour Boys players had threatened to boycott the Champions League match against eventual champions Asec Mimosas of Cote dÍvoire.
In 2000 he formed his own club, Douglas Warriors, and the team gave a springboard to a number of high-profile players such as former Soccer Star of the Year Tawanda Mparati, Ronald Chitiyo, Evans Gwekwerere, Raphael Manuvire, Gilbert Mapemba, Guthrie Zhokinyi and goalkeeper Tendai Tanyanyiwa.
The businessman was born in 1954 in Chikomba district and went to school in Highfield.
He had a passion for grassroots football which he demonstrated through the sponsorship of the Douglas Car Sales High Schools soccer tournament which involved schools from Wedza and Chikomba.
ZIFA joined the nation in mourning his death with the association spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela saying Tanyanyiwa was "a champion of football development."
"We are deeply saddened by Mr Tanyanyiwa's death, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this difficult period of grief.
"Tanyanyiwa's passion for football development was inspirational, not many individuals can channel their hard-earned cash towards sponsorship of football clubs, but he did, that is how special he was.
"We greatly cherish the deceased's immense emotional and financial investment in local football for so many years.
"As we pay our last respects to a champion of football development, we can only celebrate all his good deeds and his lasting legacy. May his soul rest in eternal peace," Gwesela said.
Meanwhile, condolence messages continued to pour in on social media yesterday.
Former Zimbabwe Saints player and goalkeeper coach Alban Mafemba described Tanyanyiwa as a football stalwart.
"It is not the Tanyanyiwas alone who have lost such stalwart. Most of us in the football fraternity have directly or indirectly benefited from his good heartedness and wisdom. We are with you in this time of bereavement," he said.
Black Rhinos forward Lot Chiunga also joined in the mourning.
"You took us under your wings and made us what we're today and I will never forget what you did for me and my family. I am pained, Douglas Warriors was my home for life."