By Sports Writer
Zambia has produced immense footballing talent over the years, starting from long before the tragic plane crash that wiped away an entire team in April 1993.
As a country, the national football team may not have reached the heights of North African and West African giants like Egypt, Ghana, or Cameroon, but on an individual level, Zambia prides in some of the best players in the continent.
We look back to the greatest ever footballers to don the green colors of Chipolopolo, the nickname of the Zambian football national team. With the resumption of the Zambian Premier League, Betway gives you a chance to bet on all the remaining matches.
#1. Godfrey Chitalu
Godfrey Chitalu is the undisputed greatest footballer from Zambia, holding the record for the highest number of goals scored in a calendar year.
Born in October 1947, he is remembered by the current generation as a coach of the national team, but his records on the pitch stand to date.
His controversial record of 116 goals in 1972 beats both Germany’s Gerd Muller and Argentinian Lionel Messi, although FIFA disputed the African’s record as unofficial.
Chitalu won the Zambian Footballer of the Year award five times and was featured among the top 200 African players over the last 50 years in 2006.
He took to coaching after hanging his boots, taking charge of Chipolopolo, before perishing in the ill-fated plane crash on 27 April 1993.
#2. Alex Chola
Alex Chola is Zambia’s second-highest goal scorer after the legendary Godfrey Chitalu, and interestingly, he followed the same path from playing to coaching in his native country.
As a teenager, he played for Solbena F.C before rising to play for Division 2 side Mufulira Blackpool in 1974. He was voted Zambian Footballer of the Year in 1976, then playing for Zambian Powerhouse Power Dynamos.
Upon retiring from playing football, he took to coaching where he managed Power Dynamos, winning the coach of the year in 1992. He died in 1993 in the fatal plane crash that killed the Zambian national team.
#3. Kalusha Bwalya
Kalusha Bwalya or King Kalu is not a new name in African football, let alone in Zambian football. He is one of the most-capped players in Zambia and the third-highest scorer for Chipolopolo behind Chitalu and Chola.
In 1988, he won the African Footballer of the Year award, underlining his dominance on the continental scene, as well as domestic football. He went on to be nominated for the 1996 FIFA World Player of the Year, emerging 12th overall, despite playing an entire season for a non-European side.
He retired as a player to start a coaching career, but he did not last long before he became the President of the Football Association of Zambia.
#4. Dick Chama
The late Dick Chama was born on 11 February 1946. He played as a central defender for the Zambia national football team, where he developed a reputation as one of the best defenders in the continent.
He marshaled the defense alongside Dickson Makwaza in Zambia’s maiden appearance in the Africa Cup of Nations in 1974, where he was nominated for the CAF team of the tournament. A year later, he won the Zambian Sportsman of the Year award.
He retired to start a coaching career at club level before trying his hand in the national team. He died on 21 March 2006, aged 60. He remains one of the best players Zambia has ever produced.
#5. Christopher Katongo
Katongo is the only active player to feature in this list. He currently plays for Green Buffaloes in the Zambian Premier League, and an essential part of the national team.
He won the BBC African Player of the Year award in 2012 after a strong AFCON Championship, where he scored crucial goals for Chipolopolo.
He was a standout player in the side that secured the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, making it to the team of the tournament.
Zambian football is back, and you can bet on premier league matches with Betway for all remaining fixtures.