Given a choice, former Dynamos defender Vint Fulawo would have chosen a long career in football and big rewards hencefrom. But considering what he gained from football, he will still take the career he had that ended at the green age of 27.
Fulawo played competitive football for only nine years the highlight being an appearance in the CAF Champions League final against ASEC Mimosas in 1998.
He is not complaining about life after football as presently he boasts of a hardware store, two butcheries, a sports bar and is also into cattle ranching.
To Fulawo, the turning point of his career was being part of the trailblazing Dynamos side that lined up for the second leg of the continental final away in Ivory Coast against Asec Mimosas in 1998 at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny.
He remembers the tension that characterised the match, how captain Memory Mucherahowa was head butted just before the match and being rushed to hospital which then forced the then Dembare head coach Sunday Chidzambwa to make tactical changes drafting Fulawo into the starting line-up.
Now, he reflects the December 12 1998 incident with nostalgia.
“It was awesome being part of that great Dynamos team as well as playing in the Champions League final. It’s not something that happens every day to any footballer. I was supposed to be on the bench that day, but the coach chose to throw me into the fray,” Fulawo said.
“It was very bad though that Memo (Mucherahowa) got injured and we all did not like it, but on the other hand it was a blessing in disguise because I got to start,” he said.
Fulawo began his top-flight football career at the now-defunct Darryn T in 1992 after being identified by Wieslaw Grabowski at the age of 18 while playing for amateur side Cone Textiles in his home town Norton.
This was followed by a loan-spell at Black Aces after DT’s expulsion from the then National Premier Soccer League in 1995 when the Pole was accused of insubordination by the league.
At the end of the 1996 season after some impressive showing at Aces, Grabowski organised trials for Fulawo at Germany Bundesliga side FSV Mainz 05 who were then plying their trade in Bundesliga 2.
“Mainz wanted me as a direct replacement of an injured defender who was a star in the team. The club’s expectations of me were very high and coming from Africa, it was always going to be difficult for me to break into the team,” Fulawo said.
Another trial stint at another Bundesliga side, Hamburg SV turned out to be the worst moment of his career after he came close to inking a deal with the club but again, nothing materialised.
One could feel the pain in Fulawo’s voice as he narrated how the golden opportunity to break into Europe league slipped through his hands.
“Hamburg were interested in my services but they did not agree on terms with my representative, Grabowski.
“Grabowski came to me saying their offer was too little, but to me money did not matter. I did not care about money, but just wanted to play in Europe. I regret that I failed to play overseas.”
Fulawo came back home feeling his skills deserved a better stage and Dynamos presented him with such a platform in Africa’s most prestigious club competition, the Champions League.
The defender’s arrival at the Glamour Boys at the beginning of 1997 saw the beginning of a life where he was to traverse the length and breadth of the African continent in search of football glory.
His football career could be regarded as one of the shortest, but to him, it meant a lot as he managed to lay the foundation of life after retirement, which many football players have failed to do