Nyasa Big Bullets is mourning the death of its former player John Phiri.
According Phiri’s younger brother, Kizito, the former heading specialist collapsed at his home in Machinjiri Township in Blantyre on Friday morning and was pronounced dead on arrival at Mlambe Hospital in Lunzu.
“It is a huge loss to our family. We are all in a state of shock,” he said.
Kizito said the remains of late Phiri will be buried at his home in Thunga, Thyolo today.
Phiri joined Bullets then Bata Bullets in 1983 as a youthful striker and gradually formed a fierce striking force with Lawrence ‘Lule’ Waya helping the side win Super League championships and other trophies like the disbanded Chibuku and Kamuzu cups.
Late Phiri was well-known for scoring goals with his head especially in the dying minutes making him popular at the club.
Waya said Phiri was a peace loving player who did not argue with his teammates or opposing players.
“He joined us at Bullets in 1983 two years after I had already started playing for the team. I played many games with him winning the league and many cups together. At some point we also played together at the national team. It is sad that he is gone we will greatly miss him,” he said.
Another former Flames international and Be Forward Wanderers defender Ojukwu Malunga said Phiri’s death was shocking.
“Just last week we were together at BAT Ground and I can’t believe this bad news. A legend is gone and gone forever. He reminds me of an equaliser he scored with 15 minutes to go. We [Limbe Leaf Wanderers] were leading 2-0 before Waya pulled one back. When we thought we were done with Bata Bullets Phiri headed home a corner from Lawrence Mnenula to cancel the lead.
“It was so painful this time because they had already beaten us three times consecutively. Then in a league match we thought that it was our day but it did not come,” Malunga recalled.
Phiri is survived by a wife and two children 20-year-old Prince, who is also a footballer, and a 15 year old daughter Tanashe.
Phiri was born in Lusaka Central Hospital in Zambia on June 27, 1966.
Peter Fote is a Sports Journalist with huge experience in radio and Television reporting, production and presentation. He once worked with Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and is currently working for Times Media Group.