ZIMBABWE football has once again been plunged into mourning following the death of Rio Tinto legend Peter Phiri.
The former midfielder died at his daughter Constance Phiri’s house in Westlea, Harare, on Thursday morning.
He was 84.
Family spokesperson, Maggie Phiri, who is also the legend’s daughter, said the celebrated player had been attacked by a second relapse two months ago having suffered another stroke in 2021.
“As a family, we are in great pain following the death of my father Peter Phiri. He suffered a stroke two years ago and he had another relapse early this year.
“While his condition had improved a lot after the stroke two years ago, things suddenly changed when he was attacked by the second relapse,” she said.
“His condition deteriorated over the past weeks before he died at my sister’s home in Westlea around 7:30am on Thursday.
“He will be greatly missed as he was a unifier and he loved his family a lot. He groomed his children well. Although no one among his four children pursued the game he loved so much, I briefly played the game in Kadoma and Harare before calling it a day before I peaked.”
Phiri’s body was expected to be transferred to his home in Eiffel Flats, Kadoma, late yesterday afternoon.
He is expected to be buried tomorrow as the family is still waiting for some of the close relatives who are on their way from South Africa.
Phiri was a key figure of the Rio Tinto class of 1983 that lost the league title to Dynamos only on goal difference.
He played in that same team with such players as Joseph Zulu, Robert Godoka, Gibson ‘’Geza Muchina’’ Sibanda, Byron ‘’Piri Piri’’ Manuel, Stanley Nyika, David Chisambi, Phineas Mutyavaviri, Wonder Phiri, Raphael Phiri and the 1983 Soccer Star of the Year Ephert Lungu.
The skilful player was also part of the St Paul’s Musami team that won the inaugural edition of the Chibuku Trophy after beating Dynamos in the final in the early 1970s.
Upon his retirement, Phiri spent years as the second-in-command for the John Rugg-coached Rio Tinto side which built a huge reputation for their compact play in the league.
At Rio Tinto, he also helped in grooming talented players such as David ‘’Chikwama’’ Mwanza, John ‘’JP’’ Phiri, Rainos Mapfumo, Barnabas Likombola, Boniface Chiseko, Uyera Mkorongo and Charles ‘’Chola’’ Chirwa, to name but a just a few.
And Canada-based former Rio Tinto utility player Byron ‘’Piri Piri’’ Manuel yesterday expressed his shock over Phiri’s untimely death.
‘’Oh my. So sorry. My deepest sympathy to all family and friends. Mr Peter Phiri was a great gentleman at Rio Tinto,’’ Manuel said in his message of condolence to the Phiri family. Phiri is survived by wife Esnath, four children Esnath, Constance, Maggie and Raymond as well as four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.