When a fairly unknown strongly built midfielder, one Matheus “Tsetse” Nerumbu, arrived ambitious at Katutura glamour football club African Stars in the mid-eighties, he was hailed as the perfect successor to the club’s great, the late Justus Kaika Kuzee.
Both athletes shared lots of similarities in playing styles ranging from unbelievable endurance, strength, great first touch, shooting ability from range and never-say-die attitude.
The raw boy from Arandis was a complete footballer, possessing all the required ingredients, strong in the tackle and was a proven goal scorer, occasionally popping up with crucial goals whenever the situation demanded.
“Tsetse” will be well remembered for his pair of headed goals that sent Ramblers packing in the final of the Metropolitan Cup at Windhoek’s Independence Stadium in 1993.
Sadly, the retired Reds’ blue-eyed boy’s life was cut short by a horrific motor vehicle accident approximately 20-kilometers south of Outjo on the Otjiwarongo road, in the vast Otjozondjupa Region, last weekend.
The likable midfield general died instantly and will be solely missed by the red army of Stars supporters and the entire Namibian football fraternity.
May his soul rest in peace.
WINDHOEK – The late “Tsetse” was born Matheus Nerumbu in the remote village town of Khorixas in the Kunene Region in 1967 and was to spent his formative years in the mining town of Arandis, Erongo Region after his parents relocated there in search of greener pastures.
Your modern day box to box midfielder, his Tsetse’s flourishing football career took off in the dusty streets of Arandis at the Kolin Foundation School before joining local team Sorento Bucks, an institution that enjoyed mass following amongst the Damara and Otjiherero-speaking community in the tiny uranium-mining town.
“Tsetse’s football prowess persuaded national scouts to select the tireless midfielder for the star-studded South West Africa (SWA) junior football team that represented the country in the South African Provincial Youth Tournament in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1986.
Some of his well-known teammates in the touring squad were; the legendary Frankie Fredericks, Willem Cloete, Sandro de Gouveia, Bernard Diocothle, Mario Rodriquez and Brian Isaacs.
Against all odds staked against the Desert boys, the team clinched medal, brushing aside an array of formidable opponents to claim the country’s first and only accolade at provincial youth level.
“The competition was extremely tough but we had a very good squad made up of highly gifted footballers and what made things interesting was the then applied selection system exposing athletes to regional trials before the final selection.
“In all honesty, the national selectors were always spot on and only selected the finest brand available” revealed Tsetse during an interview with New Era Sport in 2015
“Tsetse” grew into a noted footballer, obliging some of Sorento Bucks FC followers, who were in reality die-hard supporters of Katutura glamour football club African Stars to start sniffing around and somehow persuaded the tall midfielder to join forces with the Reds.
“We had these two gentlemen Kandee and Ephraim, who requested me to move up a step and try my luck at Stars. It was a tough decision to consider and to make things worse, my parents were not exactly happy seeing me turn out for a predominantly Ovaherero-speaking team.
“Nonetheless, the solid presence of George Gariseb swayed their conservative thinking and as they say, the rest is history.” As fate would dictate, “Tsetse” made his debut for “Starlile” against eternal rivals Orlando Pirates in a league match at the Windhoek showgrounds.
The newcomer was thrown on as a late substitute, replacing the ageing Albert Hoonjo Tjihero. He announced his arrival on the big stage with goal as the Reds’ saw off the Buccaneers 3-0 with his near faultless display on that particular day endearing him into hearts of the traditionally hard-to-please army of Stars’ supporters.
“When I arrived, Stars were aggressively engaged in a rebuilding process with Oscar (Mengo) as head coach – the squad had a good mixture of youth and experienced players spearheaded by old heads such as Marques Kamuseramdu, Albert Tjihero, George Gariseb, Jiva Kauami, Juku Tjazuko, Jackson Meroro and Bernard Newmann.”
As time wore on, the boy from Arandis went onto form a deadly combination with Newmann, alongside gifted youngsters Zico Tjazerua and Ngatangue Kamberipa as well as veteran stylish midfielder Wagga Goagoseb in the Reds’ engine room in the intervening years.
“Tsetse” became the lynchpin reigning supreme in the middle of the park where his style of play was reminiscent of Reds’ great Kaika Kuzee, to the extent that he was given the famous number six jersey worn by the late midfield general “Iku”.
A one club man, “Tsetse” boasted a remarkable resume during a career that stretched more than a decade of uninterrupted service to Stars.
He was a gold medal recipient when Stars won the coveted Metropolitan Cup in 1993 after they came from behind to dispatch the just-crowned Namibian league champions Ramblers, inspired by the tricky Capetonian Joseph “Gaya” Martin.
Tsetse single-handedly saved Stars from the jaws of death on that particular when he majestically rose above a static Ramblers defense, manned by utility center back pairing of Tollie van Wyk and Rudi Pahl to head in the elusive equalizer.
The tireless midfielder was not done yet as he inflicted more misery on the Tunchell Street Boys, netting the decisive winner in similar fashion to give “Starlile” the coveted jug. He deservedly walked away with the prestigious best player of the tournament award accolade.
Though he was included in the strong Central Invitational Eleven that squared off against the visiting Ace Mates FC from South Africa, featuring the legendary Ace Ntsoelengoe in exhibition matches, Tsetse never got to taste any action as he warmed the substitutes’ bench for the entire duration of the match.
Nevertheless, the box-to-box midfielder finally got his international break when he lined up for Stars in another exhibition match against the visiting Moroka Swallows FC (Dube Birds) from Johannesburg, South Africa at the Windhoek Stadium.
However, he rose to prominence when he pulled the strings for the national shadow side confronted Russian giants Spartak Moscow during Namibia’s inaugural Independence celebration at the packed to the rafters Independence Stadium in Windhoek in 1990.
The mere fact of rubbing shoulders with football greats Hector Camacho, Karl-Heinz Rummeinige and Jomo Sono was a special occasion for Tsetse, which he said it he would always cherish that historic moment for as long as he was still breathing.
The hosts lost 5-1 with Sono scoring a wonder free kick that sent the large crowd into frenzy. Nonetheless, “Tsetse” still held unforgettable memories of that match.
“I will always have great memories about the game of football because it made me what I’m today and I became friends with people from all walks of life through football.”
The man from the mining town was to play a pivotal role when Stars won the inaugural national league title in democratic Namibia in 1991. He subsequently represented his motherland in the prestigious Caf Club Champions League.
He hailed the dangerous trio of Dawid Snewe (BA) Mathatias “Koko” Muatunga (BW) and Lucky Boostander (BA) as the most influential footballers of his generation. Upon his retirement, the humorous midfielder joined Ramblers Old Boys in the highly competitive Central Golden Oldies Social League until his retirement before he relocated to Otjiwarongo where he lived until his untimely death.