SEARCH

Voiceofsport

African legend Ndaye Mulamba dies in South Africa aged 70

CONGOLESE and African football legend Pierre Ndaye Mulamba has died in South Africa at the age of 70.

The former striker, who was wheelchair-bound, had been suffering from heart and kidney problems. He still holds the record for the most number of goals scored at a single Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament after his nine strikes helped the then Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo – Kinshasa) to their second continental title in Egypt in 1974.

Mulamba was named Player of the Tournament and was awarded the National Order of the Leopard by President Mobutu Sese Seko.  Mulamba was a second-half substitute for the Zaire national team against Morocco in the decisive match in qualification for the 1974 World Cup.

Zaire captain Pierre Ndaye Mulamba (left) against Scotland at the 1974 FIFA World Cup in West Germanay

Zaire captain Pierre Ndaye Mulamba (left) against Scotland at the 1974 FIFA World Cup in West Germanay

In Germany he captained the team, and played in the 2–0 defeat by Scotland, but  was famously sent off after 22 minutes against Yugoslavia in what was a case of mistaken identity. Zaire were already losing 4–0 by then, and finally lost 9–0. Mulamba said later that the team had underperformed.

He played for (Zaire’s) DR Congo’s AS Vita Club for 16 years until the age of 38, helping them to the African Cup of Champion Clubs (the forerunner to the Champions League) in 1973.

Ndaye was mistakenly thought to have died in an accident in an Angolan mine in 1998 when a minute’s silence was held in his honour before the AFCON third place playoff match between the DRC and hosts Burkina Faso.

After being honoured with a medal by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in 1994 on the 20th anniversary of his record, he was shot in the leg by four men in military uniforms who demanded the medal and money. Fearing for his life, Ndaye subsequently fled to South Africa where he lived in poverty and virtually anonymously for many years in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha.

Pierre Ndaye Mulamba's Zaire team before a match

Pierre Ndaye Mulamba’s Zaire team before a match

A DRC  government minister said confirmed the death of Mulamba, a star of the 1974 AFCON in Egypt which his country won after a replayed final against Zambia. It was the second and last time the vast, mineral-rich central African nation triumphed in the most prestigious football competition on the continent.

According to reports, Mulamba had been unwell for some time and received medical care in India before returning to South Africa last August for further treatment. The DR Congo sports minister Papy Niango said in a statement released in Kinshasa that Mulamba died early in the morning of January 26.

Nicknamed Mutumbula (the assassin), Mulamba scored twice against Guinea and once against Mauritius in 1974 Cup of Nations group matches. What followed was a remarkable achievement as Zaire netted seven times in defeating Egypt (semi-final) and Zambia (final/replay) and six of the goals came from Mulamba.

Ndaye Mulamba being honured with replica of the old Zaire shirt before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa by Ghana great Pele Ayew (left) and South Africa football boss Danny Jordaan (right)

Ndaye Mulamba being honured with replica of the old Zaire shirt before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa by Ghana great Pele Ayew (left) and South Africa football boss Danny Jordaan (right)

Mulamba could not replicate his 1974 form when Zaire defended the title, scoring only once for an overall total of 10 as the defending champions made a first-round exit. Cameroonian superstar Samuel Eto’o holds the record for Cup of Nations tournaments goals with 18.

Mulamba also enjoyed international success at club level, helping Kinshasa outfit AS Vita win the 1973 African Cup of Champions Clubs (now the CAF Champions League).

Mulamba was born in Luluabourg (now Kananga). In 1973, he starred for AS Vita Club of Kinshasa, who won the African Cup of Champions Clubs.  In 1994, Mulamba was honoured at the African Cup of Nations in Tunisia. On returning to Zaire, was shot in the leg by robbers who mistakenly assumed a former sports star would be a wealthy target. He was sheltered by Emmanuel Paye-Paye for eight months’ recuperation. During the First Congo War, Mulamba’s eldest son was killed and in 1996 he fled to South Africa as a refugee, alone and destitute. He went to Johannesburg and then Cape Town, where he was taken in by a family in a township. In 1998, a minute’s silence was held at the African Cup of Nations in Burkina Faso after an erroneous report that Mulamba had died in a diamond mining accident in Angola. By then Mulamba was unemployed and drinking heavily.

Ndaye Mulamba in recent picture (above) and, below, the playing days

Ndaye Mulamba in recent picture (above) and, below, the playing days

By 2010 Mulamba was working as a coach of local amateur teams and had married a local woman. Forgotten Gold, a documentary filmed in 2008–09, follows him in South Africa and on a visit back to Congo. He also met with Danny Jordaan, head of the organising committee for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Mulamba suffered from heart, kidney and knee problems in later life and was a wheelchair user. He lived in poverty and without recognition in the Khayelitsha township of Cape Town. He died in Johannesburg on 26 January 2019.

-Additional reporting by Agencies and Correspondents

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *