Soccer is the world’s best loved sport – played by billions of people all over the planet. The players who rise to the pinnacle of the sport receive enormous sums of money because of the adoration of their millions of fans which is monetized by commercial sponsorships advertising television deals and product endorsements. Soccer stars are paid eye-waterng sums of money and are often bought and sold for millions. Betting is another multi-billion dollar avenue linked to the fortunes of the soccer greats. Thousands of online betting sites such as m.22bet.ug facilitate this huge industry.
Every nation has its stars. Lets take a look at the top players of this country.
1. GODFREY “UCAR” CHITALU
Godfrey Chitalu (22 October 1947 – 27 April 1993) was a forward. He is widely regarded as the greatest Zambian player of all time as he holds his national team’s goal scoring record. He was voted Zambian footballer of the year five times. N 2006 he was selected by CAF as one of the best 200 African footballers of the past 50 years.
Chitalu scored more than 100 goals in all competitions in 1972, more than Gerd Müller’s total in 1972 and Lionel Messi’s total in 2012, both of which are often referred to by journalist as “world records”. Zambian researchers found out he actually scored 116 tmes throughout the calendar year – ncludng 15 goals in CAF competitions, 91 goals in FAZ tournaments, 5 goals in friendly games, 3 goals in the NFL Trophy and 2 goals in the NFL Benevolent Fund Match.
Upon retirement, Chitalu took to coaching and was in charge of the Zambia national team when the entire squad tragically perished in a plane crash off the coast of Gabon on 27 April 1993.
2. KALUSHA “KING KALU” BWALYA
Kalusha Bwalya (The King Kalu) is Zambia’s eighth-most capped player and third on the list of all-time top goal scorers behind Chitalu and Alex Chola. Kalusha was named African Footballer of the Year in 1988 by the magazine France Football and was nominated for the 1996 FIFA World Player of the Year where he was voted the 12th-best player in the world, the first to be nominated after playing the entire year for a non-European club. His career as a player, coach and president of the Football Association of Zambia is partly shown in the documentary film “Eighteam”.
3. ALEX “COMPUTER” CHOLA
Alex Chola (5 June 1956 – 27 April 1993) had a career of a footballer and a coach. Chola was born in Lubumbashi where his father went to work and he reportedly played for local club Solbena F.C. before moving to Ndola as a teenager. After a brief stay, he left for Mufulira and signed with Division II side Mufulira Blackpool in 1974.
Voted Zambian Footballer of the Year in 1976, he is regarded as one of the greatest Zambian players in history and is the country’s second highest goal scorer after Godfrey Chitalu. He made a mark at Mufulira Blackpool and Power Dynamos before becoming Dynamos coach and winning the Coach of the Year award in 1992. Chola died in a plane crash off the coast of Gabon on 27 April 1993.
4. DICK CHAMA
Dick Chama (11 February 1946 – 21 March 2006) played as a centre-back and was had a career both as a footballer and a coach. He was Zambia’s defensive stalwart from the late 60’s to the mid 70’s and formed a formidable central defence pairing alongside Dickson Makwaza and was part of Zambia’s squad during the country’s very first CAN in 1974 and made the official CAF team of the tournament. Chama was voted Zambian Sportsman of the Year in 1975 and after retirement, he coached several club sides as well as the national team.
5. CHRISTOPHER “TSUNAMI” KATONGO
Christopher Katongo (born 31 August 1982) plays professionally for Zambia Premier Soccer League club Green Buffaloes F.C. as a striker. He is an Africa Cup of Nations winner and won the BBC’s African Footballer of the Year award in 2012, winning just over 40% of the public vote. His win is said to have inspired a number of young players in Zambia.
Born in Mufulira, Katongo played with Butondo West Tigers and Kalulushi Modern Stars before moving to Green Buffaloes in 2001.
6. SAMUEL “ZOOM” NDHOLV
Samuel Ndhlovu (27 September 1937 – 10 October 2001) was a Zambian footballer and coach. Nicknamed “Zoom”, he led the “Mighty” Mufulira Wanderers to unparalleled league and cup triumphs for almost two decades. He was named Zambian Sportsman of the Year in 1964 and also served the national team as captain and coach. He is widely regarded as Zambia’s best local coach.
Ndhlovu was born in Luanshya and moved to Mufulira as a boy when his family settled there. He went to Kankoyo Mine School where he excelled in various sport disciplines and it was from there that he joined the Mufulira Mine Team in 1956. The team later changed its name to Mufulira Wanderers Football Club.
He earned the nickname “Zoom” when a Wanderers fan who could not fathom how easily he dribbled past defenders started calling him ‘Sumu’ instead of ‘Sam.’ This eventually changed to “Zoom” which would become one of the most famous nicknames in Zambian soccer history. It virtually became part of his name with many referring to him simply as ‘Zoom Ndhlovu’.
Ndhlovu’s eye-catching performances in the number 10 shirt for both Wanderers and Zambia made him very popular throughout the country and he was rewarded with the Zambian Sportsman of the Year award for 1964.
7. DAVID EFFORD CHABALA
David Efford Chabala (2 February 1960 – 28 April 1993), popularly known as Efford Chabala was Zambia’s first choice goalkeeper from 1983 until his death in a plane crash off the Gabonese coast in 1993. He is Zambia’s most capped player, with 108 full international appearances. Chabala was instrumental in Zambia’s first ever East and Central African Championship success when he saved three penalties in Zambia’s 3–0 shoot-out victory over Malawi in the 1984 final in Uganda after a goalless draw at full-time. He was named Zambia’s Sportsman of the Year in 1985.
8. CHARLES “CHARLIE COOL” MUSONDA
Charles Musonda (born 22 August 1969) is a Zambian former professional footballer. At his peak, he played as a midfielder for Belgian club Anderlecht.
His debut as a professional for Zambia came in 1988 against Ghana in Lusaka which Zambia won 2–0 and Musonda did not disappoint. He was one of the star players at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul as Zambia reached the quarter finals, trouncing Italy and Guatemala with 4–0 score lines along the way.
When a plane carrying the Zambian National team developed problems and plunged in to the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Gabon on 28 April 1993 killing all 30 people on board including crew members and Football Association of Zambia president Michael Mwape, Musonda was traumatised as he was supposed to have been on the same plane. According to one report, he was called up by the national coach Godfrey Chitalu for the 1994 World Cup qualification match against Senegal but Anderlecht’s team manager, Michel Verschueren, asked him to refuse the invitation and to play for Anderlecht, which Musonda did and therefore missed the fateful flight. However an interview Musonda himself disclosed that he was in bed recovering from knee surgery and that was what saved his life. He would undergo seven operations on the same knee between 1991 and 1996.
Musonda returned to Anderlecht to become a youth coach and kit manager for the first team.
9. FREDDIE MWILA SNR
Freddie Mwila (born 6 July 1946) is a Zambian former association football player and coach. Rated as one of the country’s greatest players and coaches, he featured for Rhokana United and was one of the first Zambians to play professional football abroad when he joined American side Atlanta Chiefs in 1967. Mwila also played for Aston Villa in England and made an impact as a coach, leading Power Dynamos to the 1991 African Cup Winners’ Cup and coached several other club sides as well as the Zambia and Botswana national teams.
10. STOPPILA SUNZU
Stoppila Sunzu (born 22 June 1989), also known as Stophira Sunzu, is a Zambian professional footballer who plays as a defender for Arsenal Tula. He scored the winning penalty kick for Zambia in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations Final. He began his career with Afrisports of Kitwe. He was discovered at a U-16 tournament in Chambeshi, Zambia and he was referred to Afrisports.
He then joined Konkola Blades under a loan arrangement. After representing Zambia at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, the 19-year-old was invited for trials at the English side Reading. The Championship side was keen on securing him on a longer deal but due to work permit problems the move did not materialize. He signed a loan contract for Châteauroux in September 2008 and after the end of the season on 30 June 2009 returned to Zanaco FC.
In 2010, Sunzu transferred to TP Mazembe of Democratic Republic of Congo. With Mazembe, he won domestic titles as well as the 2010 CAF Champions League. He is the First Zambian to feature at the World club cup although he was sent off in the club’s opening game. In November 2012, he was shortlisted for the 2012 Africa-based Player of the Year award.