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ICONIC footballer, George Shaya, who died in Harare on Tuesday, has been given a State-assisted funeral.

He will be buried on Saturday at Warren Hills.

Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kirsty Coventry, conveyed the message to the Shaya family, yesterday.

“First of all, I would like to convey my heartfelt condolences to the Shaya family, following the passing on of the great George Shaya,” said Coventry.

“He is one of the greatest sportspersons to have emerged from this country.

“Government has, therefore, accorded him a state-assisted funeral.

“His death is not only a blow to the Shaya family, but to Zimbabwe, as a whole.

“The history of the game will be amiss without the mention of his name.”

Coventry, who was accompanied by her deputy, Tino Machakaire, also took time to chat with the legends, who were in attendance.

They included Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa, John “JP” Phiri, Raphael Kaondera, Stewart “Shutto” Murisa, David George and George Nechironga.

On Tuesday, Dynamos appealed to authorities to consider honouring Shaya with national hero status.

The legendary football star, who won the Soccer Star of the Year award five times, is widely considered the greatest Zimbabwean footballer of all-time.

He has battled diabetes and dementia, in recent years. “Dynamos has written to ZIFA seeking facilitation of conferment of national hero status on the late George ‘Mastermind’ Shaya, who passed on yesterday,” the club said in a statement.

“The request for national hero status is premised on George Shaya representing the rise of black national consciousness, and nationalism through his football genius, artistry and prowess, during his playing days, spanning 1968 to late ’70s.

“He was part of the black generation that used football to express their wish for self-determination, racial parity, justice and independence, during the Unilateral Declaration of Independence era, in Rhodesia.

“Shaya demonstrated that blacks were not as inferior, to their white compatriots, as portrayed by the Rhodesia Front government, by getting a national call-up into the Rhodesia national football team that played Australia in 1969, in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.”

Machakaire proposed that a knockout tournament, in honour of the late Shaya, be organised.

“It will be great if we can organise an annual tournament in honour of the fallen legend. I have been here (George Shaya home) several times, assisting the legend.

Read the original article on The Herald.