Radio54’s Broadcast Journalist Eric Knight talks to Former Caps united midfielder Farai ‘Mr Perfect’ Mbidzo who has since retired from football and seems to have found a new home in music. The humble dreadlocked footballer is now based in Germany where he lives with his family.
EK: You burst into top flight football in Zimbabwe, surprised many who did not know Farai Mbidzo when you joined arguably the finest Caps united Team iaround 2000, can you tell us which clubs you played for before?
FM: I started my junior carrier aged about 10-11 at Black Aces and played through to the senior teams. I left Black Aces to join Circle Cement FC where I was also doing Fitter and Turner apprenticeship at the cement producing company in Harare. Steve Kwashi, who knew me from my Black Aces juniors time, pursuaded me to join Caps Utd to form his trailblazing dream team in 1996 which made indisputable history.
EK: Your brother John Mbidzo who played for Black Aces was probably more popular before you came into the scene and took over, would you say he was your influence?
FM: Well, l would say all of my big brothers..(the late Anthony), Davies, Felix and John all had a role to play in shaping my football career. In fact, my big sister Antonieta played at the Saint Peter’s women team… Our father Felix Senior, is the biggest influence for us all. He made history in the 60s being part of the first team from the rural areas to win the league championship. That team also included Francis and George Nechironga’s father , the late Jawett. This team was coached by the late, well known Father Davies who was also managing the team.
EK: How did it happen that you were all footballers, John Mbidzo, Davis Mbidzo and yourself all from the same family?
FM: It also goes down to our dad, the old man himself definitely had the most influence, him and those guys he palyed with during his time are the real legends.
EK: You played for just one or maybe two seasons at Caps United and you won the League straight away even if it was a newly assembled team coached by Steve Kwashi, was it a good team or a good manager that brought success so quickly Farai?
FM: It was a combination of both..Bla Steve knew the players who would harmonise and form a balanced unit, he was a genius.
EK: Alois Bunjira and Stewart Murisa won the Footballer of the Year and Soccer star of the Year respectively that year, but many people felt you were actually the most important player and should have won it instead, how did you take it?
FM: Well, The two wide boys Gazza and Shutto made our job quite easier as linkmen, they always wanted to have the ball which is always good for the mid- field players. Trust me, people can say what they think but and l think they deserved the honours with no doubt.
EK: Tell us about your move to Germany, what happened, were you spotted by someone while playing in Zimbabwe or you made your own way to play abroad?
FM: What happened is the late president of a German side Bonner SC watched some games l played and approached me. He asked if l would like to play in Germany, by the way he is the same guy who also brought former Dynamos striker and legend Max Lunga ,who in turn really who helped the three of us, George Mbwando, Tearz Charabwe and myself, through the tough German leagues as we settled.
EK: Which teams have you played for in Germany and how was it settling there considering German football is one of the toughest in the world?
FM: I played for Bonner SC first, then signed for VFB Leipzig, VFB Lubeck, FC St Pauli and finally Karrierende in 2010 and thats when I retired. Like said before, Max Lunga had a lot of experience , which he shared that helped me a lot and obviously the self determination one has to have in soccer.
EK: You disappointed a lot of Caps united fans when you left as they saw you as the glue that held the Green machine together, do you still follow the progress of your former Club and maybe Zimbabwean football in general? If so, whats your take on Zimbabwean football and what needs to be improved or changed?
FM: I was over 22 as l left, that was my last chance of making it in Europe and was sure that Caps had enough quality players to replace anyone and they managed to play good even after my departure. I am not that much anymore into Football Business but l feel we need to have people with the love of the game, in all departments (administration and on the field).
EK: Can I ask you a funny question, who would you say was your toughest opponent in Zimbabwean football?
FM: That’s really funny, but l can’t really pick one because we worked as unit at Caps United. If any opponent dribbled in rare cases, he would definitely loose the ball to Lodza Chitembwe. If you insist, if l have to pick one, I would say emmhh.. Memo Mucherahohwa was a bit uncomfortable as an opponent.
EK: Now in Germany, language would have been a big problem when you arrived, how did you get around that?
FM: Oh man, it was indeed difficult at first but was again very lucky to have Max Lunga as a team mate , but l had to learn their language at lightning speed.
EK: Farai, I remember a lot of Sports journalists in Zimbabwe insisting that selectors call you for the national team duty with The Warriors but you hardly featured as far as I remember, thats strange considering how good a footballer you were?
FM: I was one time with the national team in the Asia Dunhill Cup tournament. Several times they did call me up as l was in Germany but unfortunately I was injured. Of course l have also heard some false versions about me turning down playing for Zimbabwe but you know false news spreaders are always around.
EK: You never stop catching people by surprise Fatso, first you burst into top flight football in Zimbabwe and became one of the best players immediately, while people were celebrating you, you left to play in Germany quietly, and now all of a sudden, you have ventured into music and boy! you are so good in it as well, when did this music thing start?
FM: Thats nice to hear that especially coming from you, Well, first of all l cant classify myself as good , thank u though for finding it good. I consider musicians as artists and for me it is the purpose of the art that is important. We grew up at Saint Peter’s Kubatana High school .As a boy at about 6 , l used to listen to Jawett Nechironga, who was a Music teacher, during some lessons and in the next block of class room in school were some marimbas . I would sneak in and play some melodies. I started listening to Bob Marley’s songs and tried to play on them using marimbas. It was a crazy idea but it was fun. My big brother Anthony taught me how to play a guitar and l guess that’s when l started being creative musically. I then never played the guitar seriously until l was in Germany, got a little box guitar and used to play to push up time.
EK: Tell us, what influenced or who influenced you to trade your boots for the guitar?
FM: Soccer age is sort of limited and l already had passion for music, so I met two German guys who were very much interested in trying reggae music and we formed the band Oneness.
EK: You remind me of former Dutch midfielder Ruud Gullit who ironically wore dreadlocks like you, who at some point dropped football boots and recorded an album entitled Red Bullet, Bob Marley as well was known to be an excellent footballer who never took football seriously. Some people say Farai Mbidzo was super talented but he didnt really love football and never took it seriously, whats your response to that?
FM: No matter how some judge me on that, I loved football and took it seriously and l think there is no obvious destination in everything we do. What must be shall be , what must not be , shall not be.
EK: So are you now a full time musician or you are doing it as a hobby?
FM: Not really. l do it part time and as a hobby for now.
EK: Which band by the way, also can you tell us how you want to take the music career and what issues does your music centre on?
FM: We are called ‘Oneness’, I believe music is a mission and not a competition. We sing to give hope to the hopeless and spreading the spirit of ONENESS in every part of the globe.
EK: Thats a good ideology Fatso, and a bit of some personal life.. Married and any kids?
FM: I am happy with my wife and three children.
EK: Whats your long term plan as a Zimbabwean son of the soil, do you see yourself playing some role in Zimbabwean football again maybe at Administration or managerial level, surely having played in a country regarded as a Football powerhouse like Germany, there are some skills and experiences that you could bring back home?
FM: For now there are no real concrete plans but l feel perhaps as a Technical Advisor, may be at one time I would.
EK: And finally, you have thousands of Fans who look up to you as a role model and inspiration, what is your special message to your fans, the younger generation who may want to emulate your path in life, and also if there are any recorded works that you have done in music and how fans can access that if any.
FM: I would say to youngsters, Work hard and believe in yourself. When u fall, gather yourself and keep the motion.
At first I actually wasn’t planning to make much recordings but now due to the fact that a number of fans like the music and that we now have a lot of songs, I am now convinced to make some will let you know as soon as we are to publish the work ..
EK: parting shots to Africa especially at this difficult time when the continent is being ravaged by the covid19 Pandemic?
FM: We have to try and obey the social distancing rules and always sanitise, pray and hope for better days to come.
EK: Thanks Mr Perfect. it was a pleasure talking to you on Radio54 news.
FM: My pleasure. Big up Chinhu Chevanhu Radio54!