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Peter Ndlovu, the Patriotic Extraordinaire

Retired football striker Peter Ndlovu earned an oversupply of names during his illustrious 23-year playing career. At Coventry City, fans b...

Retired football striker Peter Ndlovu earned an oversupply of names during his illustrious 23-year playing career.

At Coventry City, fans baptised him ‘Nuddy’ or the ‘Bulawayo Bullet’ for his lightning pace. Back in Zimbabwe, he was ‘Nsukuzonke’ – an isiNdebele word relating to his ability to turn on the style every time he played.

When English commentators struggled to pronounce Ndlovu, they erroneously mentioning to him as “Und-luv”. But whichever name you elect, each one matched his charming flair. To date, he remains the highest-scoring Zimbabwe Warriors player, amassing 37 goals in 81 goals, before he retired in 2007.

His sacrifice for the country and the Warrior’s team has become legendary. Often, he would bail out the national team with cash while on national duty. In an interview with BBC, Ndlovu said he wanted to present his famous number 12 jersey to the late president Robert Mugabe.

Born in 1973 in Bulawayo, he spent only two years at Highlanders from 1988-1990. By 1991, he was at Coventry City, playing 179, games and scoring 41 times, including a hat trick against Liverpool. His second move to Birmingham City lasted four seasons. The European sojourn ended when in 2004 Ndlovu signed a record contract deal at Mamelodi Sundowns, turning out 81 times and netting 20 goals.

Hailing from a family of gifted footballers, together with elder brothers, the late Adam and Madinda, the trio formed a telepathic combination for the Zimbabwe Warriors. And his commitment to soccer has always been admired by many.
Peter Ndlovu
Peter Ndlovu

With an accumulative total of 504 matches, Ndlovu hit the net 111 times. In 2011, he was Zimbabwe national team manager, though the stint only lasted two years. Thereafter, he was recruited by Mamelodi Sundowns as team manager – a post he holds currently.

On 19 August 1992, Ndlovu made history as the first African footballer to play in the new English Premier League. During the 1993-1994 season, while at his peak, Coventry allegedly rejected a £4 million offer from Arsenal, one of the top six clubs for Ndlovu which would have made him the most expensive player signed by an English club.

In the media folklore, the striker was reportedly a prolific scorer both on and off the pitch, often accused of sex scandals that yielded various love children. In a 2012 car accident that claimed Adam’s life, his elder brother turned into a homicide case, after a woman, identified as his girlfriend also died.

However, his ability to effectively manage players has been documented. “One of the things I used to do during my playing days was managing players, help them out and do things that help them,” Ndlovu said in an interview with Sundowns’ official website.

The player remains humble, despite his outstanding feats. “It’s what I do now that’s important because you are not judged on what you’ve done, but what you are doing. It’s a big challenge. You have to respect the players and be there for them and make sure that you manage and understand them,” Ndlovu says.
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