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LEGENDARY Highlanders FC attacking midfielder Tymon Mabaleka, who was buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery yesterday, was described as a “magnet” who drew people from all walks of life together.

Mabaleka (64), better known as “The White Horse,” died on Friday in Harare.

The football great received a rousing send-off with hundreds of people gathering for a church service at Selbourne Park Seventh Day Aentist Church to bid him farewell. Mourners spoke highly of the former Bosso star.

“People knew his name before him because he was a great footballer. I can say he was a magnet because he drew people wherever he went. He promoted Bulawayo through his football prowess and made a lot of influence on people’s lives as a footballer and music producer,” said family spokesman, Christopher Siziba.

Born in Nswazi, Umzingwane District, Mabaleka attended Losikeyi Primary School in Bulawayo before proceeding to Mpopoma High School and later moved to Mzilikazi High School.

He began his illustrious career at Eastlands before moving to Highlanders in 1973. With Tymon in the thick of things alongside Cavin Duberly, Lawrence Phiri, Billy Sibanda, Edward Dzowa, Kenny Luphahla, Mike Mpofu, Peter Bhebhe, Ananias Dube, Josiah Nxumalo and Boet Van Ays, Highlanders won their first major title — the 1973 Chibuku Trophy.

“Mabaleka was a true gentleman, on and off the field. He was a leader and everyone in the team enjoyed being close to him because of his wisdom,” said Bhebhe.

Dzowa cherished the times they had with Mabaleka. “He came to Highlanders from Eastlands to strengthen our team and added value to the squad. He was a force to reckon with and we called him Umadla Phezulu Laphansi because he was good on the ground as well as on aerial tussles.

“Just like how he used to attract people during his heydays, now he has done it again bringing people together after his life,” he said.

Sibanda said “Mabaleka was our equivalent of Messi” and he carried the burden of the team most of the times.

Madinda Ndlovu said Mabaleka was a leader. “He was a leader and is one of the people who welcomed me into first team with the late Nhamo Shambira among others. I enjoy driving today because of him as he used to give me his car keys so that I wash (it) as a young man and also have a spin. “I remember one day when we were at Gwanzura playing against Black Aces and then we had Themba Lunga who was just coming into the team and the boy was good with shots. The scoreline was 1-1, Lunga sent in a powerful cross which hit Mdala (Mabaleka) on the head and he collapsed before being ferried to the hospital.

“After the game we passed through the hospital to pick him up and he asked the result. We told him we won with him scoring the winning goal that knocked him off,” Madinda said.

Source : The Herald