Where are they now?

Whenever Zimbabwe’s greatest midfielders are mentioned, it is names like Rahman Gumbo, Benjamin Nkonjera, Johannes Ngodzo, Richard Choruma, Ronald Sibanda, Moses Chunga, Joe Mugabe and Willard Khumalo that spring to mind.

I am not finished yet - Rungisa.
I am not finished yet – Rungisa.

However, the 21st century talent page would not be complete without the mention of Patson Rungisa, who, alongside Kelvin Maseko, Master Masiku and Nqobile Sibanda, made the Railstars midfield tick.

Having risen through the Njanji midfield, “Pat” made his debut as an 17-year-old in 2008 and went on to command a regular starting place in that youthful side, which beat giants Highlanders, Zimbabwe Saints and Amazulu to argue for the bragging rights in Bulawayo.

Every time he put on the green and yellow jersey, Rungisa dispatched his midfield duties with great determination and was influential in the carpet football that the rail men became renowned for as they notched up victory after victory.

The sight of him absorbing pressure from the opposition, tearing down flanks or through central midfield as Njanji put enemy territory under constant bombardment still makes a better part of yesteryear football discussions. He was one of the most hardworking and skilful midfielders the Zimbabwean PSL has ever seen.

It was therefore, not a surprise when Rungisa was rewarded with various junior national team selections under veteran junior coach Nelson Matongorere.

He quit the game three years ago to seek better life opportunities in South Africa, where he is now employed with a catering company as a waiter.

“I am a family man and the need to pay the bills and ensure there is always food on the table pushed me out of the game,” he said. Still eager to return to the game, the 29-year-old said he was still haunted by the day his former team (Railstars) lost 3-4 to Masvingo United in the 2003 ZIFAUnity Cup at the Mucheke Stadium.

“That Gold medal was supposed to be my first and only medal, but Masvingo beat us to it. It remains memorable a game to me because it was a final that relegated teams and playing in my only cup final so far remains something special to me.

“Quitting the game at 26 was not in my early plans, but the economic downturn forced me to do that. If you look at it, I was one of the patient guys who tried to stick it out, but I could not hold on for long because it kept getting worse.”

Rungisa still cherishes teaming up with such players like Edward ‘Sporo’ Tembo, Fisher Khoza, Masiku, Maseko, Brian Makee, Collins Nyambiya, Tirivavi Sithole, Tapela Ngwenya and Nqobile Sibanda.

He mentioned Cosmas ‘Tsano’ Zulu as the greatest coach he ever worked with on his way to winning such personal achievements as Most Promising Player, Young Player of the Year and a ZIFA Unity Cup Silver medal.

He also excelled in youth tournaments, winning the Peter Ndlovu tournament four times and Bet of Africa five times.

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