After having had such an impressive career [at least] by the local standards, it’s high time Jimmy Gatete called it a day. He has nothing more to prove neither to himself nor to anyone else.
Being one of his biggest fans, my advice to Gatete, one the the country’s best products of the beautiful game, if not the best, is simple; he should just retire right now before even his remaining few supporters change their minds.
There is a proverb in one of the local lingos where I hail from, which says that ‘even the best dancers leave the floor,’ and I strongly believe that Gatete has had his time on the big floor and it’d be in his best interest if he hanged his boots sooner rather than later.
After all the success he had with APR and the good times with Mukura, the national team, Rayon Sport and the short spell with Maritzburg United in South Africa’s second division, the striker genius is better off retiring now than waiting until he has no more suitors—like his current situation is panning out.
After he was released by APR as part of the club’s massive clear-out campaign, which saw almost the entire first team players let go just over two years ago, the striker joined Rayon on a two year contract, which was a good move for both parties.
Now media reports indicate that Blues the are not willing to meet his demands for a contract extension, and so what next for a player, who is regarded by many as probably the best footballer [this claim is open to debate though] Rwanda has ever produced?
For his two years with Rayon, Gatete struggled with both injuries and form, and it was not until towards the end of last season that he picked up some of his past form, hence regaining his place on the national team.
With Rayon refusing to give him a new contract and the other big clubs APR and Atraco not showing any interest, rumours have it that either Kiyovu or Police could be his next destination.
However, with due respect to both Kiyovu and Police fans, Gatete, a player of his class and ability deserves more than these two clubs.
But being the world of football that we all know where most footballers don’t know much else outside the life of kicking the damn round thing around the pitch, you and I doubt whether a player nicknamed ‘the god of goals’ shares our idea [of immediate retirement].
From the time APR dumped him as a piece of waste, some people called on Gatete to retire in order to save what had remained of his glory days, but I didn’t share that idea [then] but two years later, I’ve joined the crusade.
One of the reasons I was giving for him not to retire two years ago was because I wanted him to prove to his critics [specifically Branko Tucak, who had written him off from day one] that he still has something to offer to Rwandan football particularly the national team.
And now that he managed to do exactly that, I think he should consider his options and possibly take the best one, which is to hang up his boots when some people still love him to keep playing than when Police or Kiyovu sign him for one year and dump after, when I assume he would have lost his place in the Amavubi Stars squad.
With his place in the starting team in the next two 2010 World and Nations Cup qualifiers against Algeria and Zambia guaranteed after playing the full 90 minutes against Egypt, in an ideal world, Gatete would use the home game against Zambia to bid farewell to the fans, who idolized him a couple of years ago and even baptised him, Imana y’ibitego [literally meaning, god of goals].
No other Rwandan player has even been that famous and I believe not many will ever be.
If Rwanda had the chance to play at either the World Cup in South Africa or Africa Nations Cup in Angola next year, then I wouldn’t advocate for him to retire now as he would play a big role, but now that those chances are all but over, he has nothing more to keep him playing.
Neither Kiyovu nor Police have the money to motivate him to play his socks off and if you’re not stirred to do something, it’s better to leave it altogether than continuing just for the sake of it.