ZIMBABWE International striker Nyasha Mushekwi underwent a delicate career-defining surgery in the Spanish capital, Madrid, yesterday that could shape the remainder of his career as a professional footballer.
The surgery was conducted by a team of specialist Spanish doctors at 5pm Zimbabwean time and comes just a few days before the Warriors plunge into a key battle in Monrovia, Liberia, in their 2019 AFCON campaign.
It also came just a few days after another wave of speculative and highly toxic reports emerged in local newspapers that the big forward was faking injury to keep himself out of the Warriors campaign.
The sensational reports once again fed into the false narrative that Mushekwi has been turning his back on his country because of a spectacular fallout with a leading ZIFA official related to his former wife.
Even though Mushekwi has led the line in trying to give the true picture of why he hasn’t been playing for the Warriors this year, while featuring for his Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, where he required painful and complicated medical procedures just to get onto the field, his message has been dismissed by some people as a hoax.
The Zimbabwean forward was forced to miss his team’s final league match against Changchun Yatai last weekend as he prepared for surgery, which they won 2-0 to secure another dance in the Chinese top-flight league.
Belgian World Cup star Yannick Carrasco scored the decisive insurance goal to help Dalian Yifang complete the campaign, three points out of relegation trouble as they finished in 11th place on the 16-team league. The victory also ended a miserable run that had seen them lose four matches on the bounce and face the grim possibility of being relegated.
Mushekwi last played for his side on November 7 when they went down 1-3 to Tianjin Teda away from home, with the big forward scoring his 15th and final goal of an impressive debut season in the Chinese Super League.
Dalian Yifang have been gambling on Mushekwi because of his importance to the team where he ended as their leading goalscorer despite having been frozen from the side at the start of the campaign by a coach who didn’t believe in him.
The coach’s subsequent dismissal, after a poor start to the campaign, opened the doors for Mushekwi who scored 15 goals to end among the top 10 players in the Golden Boot race won by Chinese forward Wu Lei with 27 goals.
Nigerian World Cup striker Odion Ighalo was second in that race with 21 goals, while Congolese forward Cedric Bakambu, the most expensive African footballer in history, was fourth with 19 goals.
Ghanaian striker Frank Acheampong finished the campaign with 17 goals and was the third most prolific African in the league while Mushekwi, despite his injury and delayed start to the season, ended in fourth place among footballers from the continent.
Mushekwi is likely to be out of action for at least four weeks after the surgery, but crucially, it could define his future in the game.
He was in high spirits yesterday as he prepared to go for the surgery and told The Herald he was hoping for the best and was relieved to be finally getting specialist treatment after a difficult year.
“I’m now set for surgery here in Madrid today and hope everything goes well,” said Mushekwi.
The striker’s absence from the Warriors, while playing for his club, has been a source of speculation on a domestic front pregnant with prophets of doom, with some even suggesting the forward had fallen out with the game’s leadership.
The big forward was forced to provide a graphic heart-wrenching video clip of the excruciating pain he endures, in a delicate procedure regularly performed by the medical staff of Dalian Yifang, just to enable him to feature for his Chinese Super League side in recent weeks.
The video clip shows the Zimbabwe international forward lying naked on a bed while a specialist doctor injects some drugs into his groin area to ease the pain, which has been haunting him for months now.
This was all meant to ensure he could, at least, run for the duration of a game.
Mushekwi could be heard in the video moaning from the severe pain inflicted by the delicate procedure, which had to be done with the aid of an ultra-sound scan monitor, to enable the physician to pick the exact spot where the drugs had to be injected.
The 31-year-old writhed in pain as the needle was inserted into his groin area while the physician administered the drug into his body in what Mushekwi said was a painful routine he had to undergo on a regular basis.
“This is what I go through every week before my games to numb my pain so I can be able to play,” he revealed.
“And this only lasts me for about 60 mins to 70 mins the most and after that I’m back to running if not jogging on the pitch?
“I know people don’t understand but it hasn’t been easy. The team needed to get out of relegation so they had to take extreme measures?
“I know it’s not easy for people to understand, but this is me going through this for the last 10 weeks now. And they have to inject me at the correct place, this why they use like ultrasound while injecting me so they can see exactly otherwise they will hurt me?
“This is how I have been able to play but still not at my 100 percent.”
He said it was unfortunate he had to do some fire-fighting all the time to explain his situation to try and make some people, who keep either questioning his commitment to the Warriors or fuelling speculation of his alleged fallout with the game’s leaders, understand his situation.
“I can’t keep trying to explain but my situation is a bit complicated . . . but I guess it is what it is,” he said.