Former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar says he doesn’t know how many people he shot and killed in Zimbabwe’s brutal war of independence.
The 60-year-old won six First Division titles with the Reds, and was the hero of the 1984 European Cup final against Roma when his ‘wobbly legs’ routine helped put off the Italian side’s players in the penalty shootout, which the Reds went on to win.
But less than a decade before that, he’d been conscripted to the Rhodesian army and thrown into the war of independence.
Following the release of his book Life in a Jungle, he’s revealed the chilling details of the war.
“This guy would cut an ear off every man he killed,” he told The Guardian .
“He kept the ears in a jar. And he had quite a few jars. His family had been brutalised so he wanted revenge.”
When asked about the first time he killed someone, he said: “My first time was at dusk.
“As the sun sinks you’re seeing shadows in the bush. You cannot recognise much until you see the whites of their eyes. It’s you or them. You shoot, you drop and there’s overwhelming gunfire.
“You hear voices on your side: ‘Hey, corporal, I’m hit.’ You whistle to shut them up otherwise we’re all getting killed.
“When the firefight is finished you see bodies everywhere. The first time everything in your stomach comes up through your mouth.”
As for how many people he killed, he admits: “I couldn’t tell you.
“Yes (it was many). This is why I’ve always lived my life for today. I can only say sorry for the past. I can’t change it.”
Grobbelaar adds that the torment of war was too much for two soldiers he knew once they found out they had to go back for a six-month tour.
“They killed themselves simultaneously in adjoining toilets in the barracks,” he said.
“They couldn’t face it.”
Video Credit: Nick Downie – Rhodesian Bush War 1978