The name “Gotzila” was enough to send shivers running riot in the bellies of hardened criminals, let alone poor footballers.
Back in the day it was not easy for an unknown raw youngster just to walk straight into the starting line-up of Katutura giants Orlando Pirates, aka the Ghosts or the Buccaneers.
Well, very few people are aware that the former Orlando Pirates strongly built defender was recruited from the popular unofficial football league, that saw upcoming footballers compete fiercely at the Ellis Park gravel field, situated next to the Immanuel Shifidi Secondary School in the Damara section, Katutura.
The bulky fullback also had a brief stint with the now defunct Katutura outfit Hungry Lions Football Club where he rubbed shoulders with boyhood buddy, the late Ringo Skrywer, Isaac Kavari, Lucky Gawanab, Bones Kandjou, Jeff Tjitemisa and many other promising young footballers under the shrewd stewardship of the legendary Doc Hardly.
Gotzila went on to establish himself as a pillar of strength in the tough tackling Orlando Pirates rearguard, partnering Salathiel “Stimela” Ndajao in the heart of the Ghosts’ defence.
We caught up with the cunning fullback as he relives his unforgettable moments in domestic football and how he used to bottle Black Africa’s danger man Dawid “Big Fellah” Snewe.
by Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa
Christened Ellis Park stadium after the giant Ellis Park stadium in Auckland Park, Johannesburg – the tiny gravel field sandwiched between the Lutheran church and Immanuel Shifidi Secondary School, central north of Katutura residential area for Bantus, bred a significant number of football stars.
The likes of former Orlando Pirates troublesome goal poacher Jorries African, the late Black Africa midfield genius Joseph “Mombakkies” Eiseb, midfield generals Axab Gowaseb, Lesley Goagoseb and the silky Lucky Richter all made their mark at this field.
Such was the popularity and attraction of the unofficial tournaments and stake games that talent scouts from both Black Africa and Orlando Prates would descend on the field to run an eye over promising young footballers.
Playing as an old fashioned centre forward for his team Golden Chicago FC, Gotzila used to terrorize and bamboozle his opponents with sheer pace and strength – muscling his way through robust defenders at will without having to shed an ounce of sweat.
Orlando Pirates players African Areseb and Ou Les Goagoseb, graduates of this institution, noticed the quality in Gotzila and persuaded him to join forces with the Ghosts and as they say the rest in history.
Unlike many youngsters who were obliged to bide their time on the substitutes’ bench before getting a run – Gotzila walked straight into the star-studded Buccaneers starting line-up where he was to form a telepathic partnership with the hard tackling Salathiel Ndjao in the heart of Ghosts’ defence alongside the speedy Frans Kazimbu and Toens “Tara Meuru” (Look up the Skies) Spiegel.
“To tell you the naked truth, I was still very young and felt not ready to play football at the highest level, rubbing shoulders with senior players I’ve always admired and looked up to as my role models, though I was excited,” reveals Gotzila.
Gotzila made his debut in the black and white stripped outfit in the then popular Top Six tournament at the old Katutura stadium. He started on the bench when Pirates took on bitter rivals Black Africa but came on to play a pivotal role in the Pirates’ victory over their eternal rivals.
Pirates went on to clinch the tournament, with Gotzila playing in each of every minute of the reminder of the Ghosts’ participation in the mini tournament, which was eventually won by the fired-up Buccaneers.
Still regarded by many as an unfinished product, Gotzila’s arrival at Pirates brought a new dimension to the Ghosts style of play as he was tasked to mark Black Africa’s free scoring forward Dawid Snewe.
“I vividly remember marking the hell out of Snewe on my debut after coming on as a second half substitute. In fact, I was very lucky playing alongside the experienced Salat. He used to encourage me to be calm and not panic under pressure and would also guide and guard me whenever the going got tough.”
He watched from the substitutes’ bench when Pirates played out a goalless draw against the visiting Angolan football outfit Pedro de Athletico FC at a packed to rafters Katutura stadium in 1990.
However, Gotzila got his first taste of international football on foreign soil playing the full 90 minutes in the Ghosts’ 2-1 defeat at the hands of Angolan outfit Transportes de Angola at the municipal stadium in Luanda. Pirates lost their second match on Angolan territory – going down 7-0 against Pedro de Athletico.
Back home, the tough tackling Gotzila, a crowd favourite, was rewarded for his exploits when the ebony skinned defender was included in the Namibian Under-23 football team alongside Pirates’ teammate Sabans Namaseb.
Unfortunately, the match did not take place as Namibia’s opponents Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) withdrew from the youth tourney.
With the arrival of a young but steady centre back from Omaruru, Doc Naomab – Gotzila was redeployed to the right back position with Frans Kazimbu shifting to the left side, in place of the unreliable Toens Spiegel.
His huge frame made many marauding strikers think twice before daring to take him head on in one-on-one situations.
“I was strong in the tackle but very clean and would never go out of my way to cause serious bodily harm to an opponent – hence I’ve never received marching orders from the referees during my entire playing career.”
Gotzila went on to to win silverware with his beloved Sea Robbers, including the coveted Mainstay, Novel Ford and Metropolitan Cups. He was runner-up twice to eternal rivals Black Africa in the final of the Castle Classics trophy.
“Pirates had a very good squad, a mixture of youth and experience but above all, we played football for the love of the game despite the fact that there was no big money involved in the game.
“We used to play with heart and were extremely competitive, that’s why we never played in front of empty seats. Our matches were always packed and we drew large crowds irrespective of our opponents.”
Quizzed to reveal any striker, the bulky defender hastily named Namibian sporting icon Frank Fredericks as the trickiest forward he marked.
“Eish, that boy was blessed with almost everything required from a complete centre forward. Apart from his pace, he possessed a decent shot, brilliant first touch and could read the game well. Both Snewe and Juku (Tjazuko) were also equally dangerous but I could handle them with ease.”
Gotzila admits that he was very lucky he did not have to play against his former mate Steven Damaseb. “Stevie was a phenomenal athlete – I’m glad and felt relieved he was my teammate because he used to terrorize us at training with his speed and tricky footwork.”