Dream Team remembered

Among the strongest points of our 1990s “Dream Team” was the ability to contain even the continent’s deadliest strikers, especially at home.

Henry McKop
Henry McKop

And when the Warriors fell within minutes of qualifying for the 1994 African Nations Cup after a 1-1 draw with neighbours Zambia, the man who had thrust them ahead was Henry McKop.

Managed by the now late German-born coach, Reinhard Fabisch, the Dream Team went on an unbeaten run of 13 games matches in the African Nations and World Cup Qualifiers, beating powerhouses like Cameroon, Egypt and Angola.

This week, we bring you the decorated former Zimbabwe Saints defender, who is now based in Cape Town. “Bully” runs a business that supplies sporting kit to teams and fans across Southern Africa and plans to launch a brand called ‘Forward’ next week.

“I concentrate on football wear and work in partnership with the company responsible for making Adidas balls, including the Jabulani ball used during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and those in the ABSA Premiership,” said the towering former defender.

“We also stock quality training and match-day kits, with replica ones for the fans. We have been supplying the region for some time now and we would like to see our products going international because they are original.”

McKop took a scenic journey through football after leaving Saints in 1990, having won the domestic league title the previous year. He played for the Warriors for more than a decade.

He also became one of the very few local players to make it in Europe, with fellow national team players Bruce Grobbelaar, Peter Ndlovu and Moses Chunga.

When he left the local scene, McKop joined German Third Division side, Bonner SC for a then top amount of $20 000. In 1993, he signed for England’s Bristol City, but played only five games during his two seasons stay at Ashton Gate.

Redemption came in July 1995, when Damien Richardson took the centre back to Ireland, where he played for Shels. He helped make the team of 1995-1996 one of the best in the Reds’ history.

Marshalled by Mick Neville, Shels were the envy of the League of Ireland, with players of the quality of Greg Costello, Stephen Geoghegan, John O’Rourke, Shero and Gary Howlett. Injuries to Neville and Ray Duffy gave Mckop a run of 20 games for the club, including the famous League Cup final victory against Sligo Rovers.

That was the club’s first League Cup title achieved in their centenary year and Mckop won a gold medal in the FAI Cup of 1996 as an unused substitute.

He spent the next two seasons playing in Austria, before moving to South Africa, where he turned out for Mamelodi Sundowns, where he won the league title in 1999. He later joined Wits University.

Having been mentioned as a future coach for the Warriors, this came to naught following his perennial clashes with Mugabe’s nephew, Leo, the former ZIFA chairman. Mckop was capped 38 times for Zimbabwe.

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