Where are they now?

“The goalpost became very small as I approached the ball,” said former Railstars defensive link, Derrick Phiri, as he continued to rue that missed penalty, which would have earned him the only gold medal of his career.

I still rue that miss - Derrick Phiri.
I still rue that miss – Derrick Phiri.

Railstars eventually lost that 2002 ZIFA Unity Cup final shootout 4-3 to hosts Masvingo United at Mucheke Stadium.

For the pint-sized Phiri (31), going down in history as the man whose miss of a decisive kick cost Njanji a trophy in the only final they have ever reached still brings misery. “It still haunts me,” he told The Zimbabwean.

“My colleagues encouraged me to be strong, but it did not work. I wish I could turn back the hands of time and make it right.”

Two accidents the following season cut his career short and that only made things worse. Leaving the game meant he would never make the amends he had promised his team-mates.

The two sides were tied 2-2 when they were forced to go to the dreaded penalty shootout that brought Phiri his misery.

“It was a very tough match for us, after we had toiled to beat Highlanders 3-2 in the semi-finals., but I thought we deserved to win it.”

Ironically, it was the same Phiri who scored a last-minute spectacular that powered his side to the final.

“I had hoped that time on the field of play would help me get the final laugh, but in 2004, I was involved in two road accidents that ended my career,” he added.

Economic problems saw him leave his homeland for neighbouring South Africa in 2006.

A former youth international and son of the legendary Ebson Sugar Muguyo, “Dede” made his Premiership appearance under his father’s tutelage in a 2000 league game against Chapungu at Ascot Stadium in Gweru.

“Since then I never looked back and went on to represent the national Under-20 team under the mentorship of Barry Dhaka and Gibson Homela.” He still has some great memories about football.

“I enjoyed camping, singing and rubbing shoulders with greats like Willard Khumalo, Kelvin Maseko and Charles Chilufya.”

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