Senior Sports Reporter
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has sent a special condolence message to Zimbabwe and the family of former national team goalkeeper George Chigova, who died last week at the age of 32.
Chigova, who won over 32 international caps, died from suspected heart complications and will be buried in Chivhu this afternoon.
He rose to prominence during the 2014 CHAN tournament in South Africa as well as the 2018 COSAFA tournament where he saved a series of penalties to help Zimbabwe win matches in penalty shootouts. He was also part of the Warriors side at the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt.
Infantino and CAF president Patrice Motsepe wrote to ZIFA Normalisation Committee chairman Lincoln Mutasa separately to express their sorrow at the loss of the imposing goalminder.
Infantino praised Chigova’s career, calling him a “legend of Zimbabwean football” and noting his “commanding presence in goal … his personality, his leadership, his popularity and his human qualities”.
“Words seem inadequate to express the sadness we feel for this loss. During his career, George Chigova won over 30 international caps, notably taking part in the 2014 CHAN tournament.
“At club level, having started at Gunners, he will be remembered for his career with Dynamos before having moved to South Africa where he defended the colours of SuperSport United in two different stints and at Polokwane City FC.
“Legend of Zimbabwean football, known for his commanding presence in goal, his legacy and achievements and in particular his personality, his leadership, his popularity and his human qualities will not be forgotten and he will be truly missed.
“On behalf of the international football community, I wish to extend our sympathy to the Zimbabwe Football Association and George Chigova’s family, friends and loved ones.
“Our thoughts are with you, we hope that these memories and our words of support may bring some peace and solace at this difficult time,” wrote Infantino.
The ZIFA Normalisation Committee, represented by the chief executive officer Yvonne Manwa handed the Chigova family his last national team jersey as a keepsake.
The Premier Soccer League also paid tribute to Chigova who won two league titles and two Mbada Diamonds Cup titles with the Glamour Boys between 2012 and 2014.
PSL chief executive officer Kenny Ndebele, whose speech was frequently disrupted by a clique of disgruntled Dynamos supporters in protest of the decision to play the final of the Chibuku Super Cup against Ngezi Platinum Stars at Baobab, said Chigova was a good ambassador for the league in South Africa as well as at the national team level.
“I am here representing the PSL chairman on the loss of the young man George Chigova and his commitment to football, his passion and discipline in football.
“George played PSL football as you heard at Gunners and Dynamos. In 2013 he was among the Soccer Star of the Year finalists.
“We feel saddened as the PSL family that we have lost one of our heroes, our ambassador who represented us well in international games and in South Africa as well. To George, we say rest in peace and we wish the family a safe journey to Chivhu,” said Ndebele.