Dr. Lushozi is a great example to all of us
With Orlando Pirates leading ASEC Abidjan 1-0 during the 1995 CAF Champions Cup Final second leg (now the CAF Champions League), stand-in coach Ronald Mkhandawire threw on Bernard ‘Shoes’ Lushozi with 13 minutes remaining to stabilize things in midfield.
In the early stages of the competition, Lushozi was an integral part of the Bucs team, playing four matches under then coach Mike Makaab. During that match in Abidjan, the hard tackling player featured in a defensive midfield position after the sending off of captain Innocent Mncwango in the first leg.
Lushozi destroyed everything in sight, protecting the defensive pair of Mark Fish and Gavin Lane as The Buccaneers marched on to become the first Southern African team win the prestigious CAF club competition.
From his early days at Moroka Swallows to reaching the peak of his career with Orlando Pirates, Lushozi was a no-nonsense player who was always committed to helping his team.
In essence, that it what he is known for as a player to this day – a bone crusher on the field, but off it a soft-spoken intellectual who thinks about every word before opening his mouth.
And when KICK OFF received the news that the now 57-year-old had graduated with a PhD [Doctor of Philosophy] Degree in Education, we sent our Senior Reporter, Lovemore Moyo, to the south of Johannesburg to do an interview with the former Buccaneer.
We knew that this is an inspirational story many players, and even old timers, can learn from.
Yesteryear hero, former Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs founding-player, Ratha
Mokgoatlheng, is now a High Court Judge, while former defender Howard Freese went on to become a medical doctor.
And while there are many players who have had illustrious academic careers after hanging up their boots, Dr. Lushozi’s story is different and remarkable.
The former player tells KICK OFF that by the time he finished his studies he was partially blind after discovering that he was diabetic in 2001.
“My eyes started deteriorating in 2018, and I went for my first consultancy with the optometrist o in December o of that year. It affected my s studies because I was in the s second year of my PhD and h had to ask for my submission d dates to be extended, hence it t took me five years to do t he PhD.”
Unlike many people wwho make excuses when cconfronted with challenging aand difficult times, the foformer Buccaneer soldiered oon and finished his PhD. And t his is an achievement that ccannot be taken lightly in a ddifficult year compounded bby the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Lushozi is a great e example to all of us and h hopefully his story will inspire more players not to give up when faced with difficult times.
It is people like him that we need in leadership positions in our football. Someone who has played the game and went to school for the academic side.
Hopefully, the head honchos currently leading our football at both SAFA House and PSL can call upon Dr. Lushozi to share his knowledge and lessons of football. Turn to page 60 for the full interview.