Zimbabwe: Sadly, Butler Never Realised His Dream

Special Correspondent

HE had a dream but it's one he never realised.

For Butler Masango, who died in Johannesburg on Monday, nurturing the next generation of Warriors, had become an obsession.

Sadly, it's a mission that only ended in its infancy.

He was very passionate about football and once told me he also harboured another big dream -- to be the Warriors head coach, one fine day.

Butler was someone who knew exactly what he wanted and was never shy of showing his cards.

As a player, he was a fine playmaker, who also specialised in scoring special goals.

His mentor at Air Zimbabwe Jets, in the early 2000s, the legendary Stanford "Stix" Mutizwa, spoke about how Butler should have ventured into Europe.

According to Mutizwa, "he had all the attributes of being a world-class player," who deserved the European stage.

"Butler had the built, evasive dexterity when in possession, positioning on and off the ball and an explosive finish," said Mutizwa.

"Infact, he had on-off stints in Vietnam, where several scouts from top French and German sides had watched him there, and tried to lure him into the big time.

"But, it always puzzled me why he didn't grab that opportunity.

"I also recall a match, back in 2000 when we played Masvingo United in a league game at Mucheke Stadium, which we won 1-0, through his genius.

"He picked up possession, just outside the centre circle, weaved his way past two defenders and laid a square pass to his right wing colleague Prince "Pipi" Kadewere.

"He then set up a pocket of space for himself just outside the penalty box.

"Kadewere then obliged with a lovely return pass which Masango deftly controlled with his chest and hit the ball, with a half-volley, which nestled into the far right corner.

"That was Butler for you."

Butler was also full of humour, on and off the pitch.

His former colleague at Makepekepe, Stewart "Shutto" Murisa, recalled a piece of his colleague's funny side.

Back then, Butler was still at Black Aces, and they clashed in a 1996 Cup clash at Gwanzura.

"As both teams were involved in their respective warm-ups, before kick-off, Butler came over to some of us and jokingly said, "kana manga makwereta huku muchiti muchabhadhara mariyacho nemawinning bonuses enyu mangwana (Monday), mairasa nekuti muchazoita imwe week muchidya nemavegetables."

"At half-time Aces were leading 2-0, through Butler and Francis Jayman's strikes, and I couldn't help myself chuckling at Butler's "impending prophecy."

"Fortunately I scored two goals for a share of the spoils," said Murisa.

The athletic Masango also loved reggae music, especially Burning Spear, and would leave many bemused with a superb imitation of Michael Jackson's "Moonwalk Dance" whenever the hit track "Thriller" was being played.

Such was the life of this lively fellow who was, indeed, quite a very good footballer.

At the beginning of the year, when he was feeling under the weather and was hospitalised following his heart problems, he called me one day.

He spoke passionately about his desire to turn his football academy into a huge success.

After all, he said, they had the full support of Kaizer Chiefs owner, Kaizer Motaung.

And, of course, fate ruled otherwise.

He will get a chance to fulfil his mission of one day coaching his beloved Warriors.

I will always carry that beaming smile, as he spoke about his playing days for the national Under-23s in the '90s.

It's a team that came close to winning the All-Africa Games title, before losing to Egypt 1-3, in the final, at the National Sports Stadium.

With Butler in the team, they came close to qualifying for the '96 Olympics before falling to eventual gold medal winners, Nigeria.

Although he failed to realise his full potential, during a fine playing career, no one can ever question his commitment.

This is a game he was committed to, both as a player and someone who wanted to make a difference to other players, when his playing days were over.

It explains why he was such a popular figure, among the scores of Zimbabweans, plying their trade in South Africa.

In one way or the other, he helped some of them to get to play in Supa Diski.

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