The football fraternity is mourning the death of former Mighty Be Forward Wanderers midfielder Leonard ‘Lenzo’ Malunga, who died on Tuesday night after collapsing at his home in Machinjiri Township, Blantyre.
Football Association of Malawi (Fam) President Walter Nyamilandu described Malunga, whom he played with at both national team and Wanderers, as a rare breed.
“We have lost a legend of Malawian football and this is a sad day for our football. He was one of the most talented players I ever played with and the best free-kick taker I have ever seen,” he said.
Former Wanderers defender Ojukwu Malunga, midfielder Thom Milanzie and striker Bob Mpinganjira all paid tribute to Malunga for his winning mentality.
“All what he wanted was to win games. He got furious when he saw us [strikers] not making runs into spaces to get the ball. He was good at making telling passes. His free-kicks were simply the best,” Mpinganjira said.
Former Wanderers General Secretary David Kanyenda also mourned the player, saying he projected an ideal image of a local soccer icon throughout the 1990s.
“Young and free with a cool moniker “Lenzo”, he made many headlines both on and off the pitch. Starting out with the reserves, he earned a promotion to the senior side with a dazzling array of eye-catching performances.
“Renowned for his knack to converting free-kicks, Lenzo saved Nomads from jaws of defeat many a time with his dead-ball acumen. He was unnaturally gifted on set-pieces,” Kanyenda said.
Lenzo contributed a healthy goal return from midfield where he starred alongside Milanzie, Hannock Ng’oma, Phillip Madinga, Hendrix Banda and his uncle Holman.
“His impressive displays soon attracted the national team selectors’ interest but stiff competition hampered further progress. Lenzo earned a few caps but couldn’t hold down a regular place in the first team falling down the pecking order to PSL [South Africa] trio Ernest [Mtawali], Chancy [Gondwe] and late Hendrix Banda,” he said.
Lenzo is survived by five sons and was born on April 23 1973.
He came from Kadikila Village, Traditional Authority Kunthembwe, in Chileka, Blantyre.
Burial is tomorrow at Katimba CCAP Cemetery in Kanjedza.
His elder brother Yona said they shifted the burial from today to tomorrow as they were expecting relatives from the United States.