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The untold football journey of the ‘Copper Bullet’ Mandume ‘Licky’ Gideon

2023-07-21  Carlos Kambaekwa

The untold football journey of the ‘Copper Bullet’ Mandume ‘Licky’ Gideon

He came, conquered, and lifted a pair of high-profile silverware in the country’s top-flight football league. Well, for the born-frees, the name Mandume ‘Licky’ Gideon might sound alien, but the former Benfica Football Club midfield kingpin certainly left his mark in the annals of domestic football. 

Mandume might have lived in the shadow of his more celebrated local rivals, including bitter rivals from Chief Santos, during his illustrious playing career, but he stood out head and shoulders above many peers in terms of talent, commitment, consistency, longevity, discipline, dedication, and determination in the game. 

Mandume, was the complete package of an all-rounder, so to speak. 

Admittedly, the much-loved midfielder was the designated poster boy of the exciting Nomtsoub outfit. His name was always first on the team list; he was indeed the go-to man when the situation demanded. 

A very strong and intelligent midfielder, boasting all the required attributes of a complete footballer, Mandume could have easily walked blindfolded into the starting line-up of any top team in the business and made the grade. 

Apart from an unexpectedly short-lived stint with cross-country rivals Tigers in 1982, he was nevertheless a steadfast, dedicated one-club man who spent a significant chunk of his astonishing playing career at ‘Fika- Fika', as the Nomtsoub outfit was affectionately known among their ardent followers. 

Dangerous in aerial duels, he was not only a great midfield player. He was a devastating regular goal scorer and could also help out in defence. Despite playing in an era spoilt with abundance of amazingly talented midfielders, Mandume was certainly up there with the very best, and should be spoken of in the same conversations as the likes of the great Doc Hardley, Oscar Mengo, Hannes Louw, George Nawatiseb, Norries Goraseb, Koko Muatunga, Ivo de Gouveia, and many others. 

Mandume was not to be outdone as he put in eye-catching performances to the extent that he was deservedly included in the strong South West Africa (SWA) Invitational side to represent his country in the prestigious South African Inter-Provincial Currie Cup in East London, South Africa, in 1982. 

Admittedly, the SWA amateurs performed beyond expectation at the annual tourney that saw both Ben Gaseb and Dahle Stephanus selected for the Springbok team, bringing to seven the number of Namibians to earn that honour, following in the footsteps of Hasso Ahrens (1975) and Gunter Hellinghausen (1976). 

Former Windhoek City, SKW, and SWA versatile defender Gernot Ahrens was selected for the Junior Springbok team in 1975. 

Former Blue Waters and Brave Warriors’ inspirational skipper Sandro de Gouveia obtained Springbok colours playing for the South African Combined Defence Force team, while SKW agile shot stopper Danish national UNTAG attaché Kenneth Larsen also earned the same accolades representing his temporary adopted Land of the Brave, South West Africa, at the same tournament in 1989. 

Mandume went on to propel Benfica to an astonishing historic triumph in the prestigious Metropolitan Life Knockout Cup final, dispatching pre-tournament favourites Black Africa away from home in 1987. 

He was also on the winning side when the Nomtsoub outfit repeated the feat seeing off the mighty Black Africa in the final of the Novel Ford Cup the same year to register an unprecedented cup double. 

The energetic midfielder played a pivotal role when Benfica reached the final of the annual Novel Ford Cup for the second year running, only to stumble against youthful giant killers Sorento Bucks at the final hurdle. Mandume was once again in the thick of things when Benfica shared the spoils with Monaco in the final of the popular Easter Tournament Trophy on home soil in 1990. 

Arguably one of the least talked about, or rather, most underrated, midfielders of all time, Mandume will go down in history as the greatest player to have ever donned the blue-and-white strip of Benfica Football Club.

2023-07-21  Carlos Kambaekwa

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