January 16, 1965
Mpilo Central Hospital, Bulawayo
|Education||Sobukhazi High School|
|Years active||1982 -|
|Organization||Zimbabwe Saints Football Club|
Godfrey Paradza is Zimbabwean football legend who played for forgotten Bulawayo giants, Zimbabwe Saints Football Club in the 1980s as a schoolboy at Sobukhazi Secondary School. He also played for Harare giants, Dynamos Football Club where he enjoyed most of his success as a footballer winning three league titles.
Background and Education
Godfrey Paradza was born on January 16, 1965, at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo. Born into a family of six, a girl and five boys, Paradza did his Grade 1 to 3 at Gwinyai Primary School in Mbare, Harare, where he was in same class with Joe Sanangurai. He then transferred to Nharira Primary, also in Mbare, where he did Grade 4 and 5, sharing class and playing football with the likes of goalkeeper Fanuel Ariberto, Pasanduka Pakamisa and Stanley Mashezha, whom he reunited with playing club football.
He returned to Bulawayo and enrolled at Lobengula Primary School for his Grade 6 and 7. He broke into the Zimbabwe Saints Football Club's first team as a 17-year old schoolboy at Sobukhazi Secondary School.
It was at Lobengula Primary that he linked up with Dumisani Nyoni, the late Mercedes Sibanda, goalkeeper Sydney Zimunya and Netsai Moyo, who went on to become key members of the Bosso “Liverpool” side coached by revered juniors’ trainer Ali “Baba” Dube. “I then went to Sobukhazi Secondary where I met my best friend Themba Lunga, who later went on to play for Highlanders Football Club, while I was at Zimbabwe Saints.
He had a a brother called Themba Kanyemba, who used to play for Dynamos and used to take him to DeMbare games. His brother didn’t make it into the Dynamos senior team, but was prominent in the reserve side as a goalkeeper, defender or striker. He pursued studies more and left football, leaving Godfrey in the Dynamos juniors. Godfrey later on moved to Zimbabwe Saints as a junior where he played for the Under-14s and then crossed the floor to Highlanders where he played for the popular Under-16s coached by Ali Baba. Godfrey was convinced they were the best juniors then because they never lost a match, hardly conceded goals and they used to score as defenders. He partnered the late Willard Khumalo at the back and used to take take to make overlapping runs which resulted in them scoring goals but Willard was later limited in his overlapping because he was slow in recovering unlike the speedy Godfrey.
Paradza was taken by surprise in 1982 when Zimbabwe Saints great Gibson Homela enticed him to join the first team as a 17-year-old. He was in Form 4 then and had played a key role in the famed Highlanders Football Club’s Under-16 squad that was popularly known as Liverpool in the 1981 Castle Cup tournament, which they lifted after beating Mhangura 3-2 at Rufaro Stadium in Harare. His arrival at Saints was rosy since he had been guaranteed first-team action when he was lured from Highlanders’ juniors, a relationship that later turned toxic at the end of 1983 when Paradza learnt that Chikwata officials had secretly sabotaged his move to English side Coventry City.
The English club was impressed by the defender during their 1983 tour of Zimbabwe when they beat the national Under-20 side, which Paradza played for. They went on to lose 2-4 to Zimbabwe Saints. Coventry City then sent air tickets for Paradza, Jimmy Phiri and Shacky Nyathi to attend trials, but Chikwata officials didn’t notify the players and the deal went down the drain.
Paradza said it was quite an experience playing alongside Homela, Ebson Muguyo and Max Tshuma, as they always encouraged him. Playing as a right-back was tough for Paradza as he faced some of the country’s hot and tricky wingers in the form of Madinda Ndlovu, Boy Ndlovu, Tanny Banda, Robert Godoka, Edward Katsvere, Moses Chunga, Jimmy Mbewe and Joseph Zulu. Paradza charmed national team coaches Shepherd Murape and Peter Nyama in his first season with Saints. Murape attended one Saints’ training session at Ross Camp in 1982 and was impressed to see Paradza containing Tshuma, who was in the national team.
Narrating how he left Zimbabwe Saints for Darryn T at the beginning of 1985, Paradza said: “When I finished my O-Levels in 1982, I got a job at the National Railways of Zimbabwe together with Ephraim Chawanda. We played Coventry City and they expressed interest in me, Jimmy Phiri and Shacky Nyathi.
They sent tickets, but abadala beteam (Elders of the team) thought if we left it would affect the club and they kept that information away from us. The following year there was supposed to be an elective general meeting at the club and the then secretary John Nyazika (late) told us that his executive didn’t want him because he had told them to let us go to England.
“I happened to be captain of Matabeleland North Province select squad and there was this guy Trevor McMillian, who worked at Merlin. He organised a trip to Newcastle (England) and $600 was needed for my trip. It was a lot of money then and Saints were not keen to pay, but Highlanders covered Madinda Ndlovu’s ticket and he went for trials. That hurt me so much.
“When Bobby Clark came to Highlanders, Loughty (Lawrence Phiri) tried to get me back to Bosso, but Saints refused. In the end, there were frictions and I decided to apply for work at ZESA. I got the job and moved to Harare. They tried to plead with me to do like what Homela and Steve Kwashi used to do, to travel between Harare and Bulawayo on weekends for games, but because of the frustrations I had, I then joined Darryn T in 1985. In 1991 I then joined Dynamos Football Club.”
It was, however, at Dynamos where he enjoyed success, winning three league championships in 1991, 1994 and 1995. At DeMbare, he played alongside Angirai Chapo, Stanley Chirambadare, Henry Chari, Kaitano Tembo, Vitalis Takawira, Francis Shonhayi, Claudius Zviripayi and Memory Mucherahowa. Dynamos’ 1992 power struggles between Jockoniah Nhekairo and Morrison Sifelani almost forced Paradza out of football.
“When the season was about to start, there were two factions at Dynamos. ZIFA said my loan from Darryn T was with Nhekairo and didn’t recognise Sifelani. It was tight, I think I played one or two games then some Dynamos people came and broke windows at my place in Mbare. I had a small child and that really scared me.
“This incident came after we drove to Rufaro Stadium via a long route, as people had barricaded the road next to the cemetery for our game against Mhangura. The players that had remained at Dynamos were myself, Vitalis, Chari, Claudius, Shonhayi and Peter Fanuel, who came here and there, while some came to collect money. After that incident, I left Dynamos only to return when David George took over as coach and stabilised things,” said Paradza.
- League titles - 1991, 1994 and 1995 (All with Dynamos Football Club)
- 1981 Castle Cup Tournament winner (With Highlanders U-16s)
- Ricky Zililo, , The Chroicle, Published: 1 May, 2021, Accessed: 26 September, 2022