The Forgotten Year of Godfrey Chitalu

The year 2012 will always be remembered by many as the year we marvelled at the prodigiously talented Lionel Messi. It was a year that his seemingly endless catalogue of goals was fastidiously plotted in the hope he could break Germany’s Gerd Müller’s 40 year old record from 1972 of 85 goals in a calendar year. Müller was known as “Der Bomber” and his record in 1972 of 72 goals for Bayern Munich and 13 for West Germany was impressive enough but when Messi scored twice against Real Betis on December 9th he eclipsed that total with his 86th goal of the year. Almost unbelievably Messi scored five more before the end of the year, twice against Cordoba in the Copa del Rey, twice against Atletico Madrid and once against Real Valladolid to take his annual total to an astonishing 91 goals. He not only beat “Der Bomber’s” world record he smashed it! 

Or did he? Step forward Godfrey Chitalu, a Zambian centre forward of the 1970’s whose records and scoring feats have been picked up for investigation  after some relentless pushing from the Zambian Football Federation. However, General Secretary of FIFA, Jerome Valcke, has adopted a defensive stance on the matter claiming FIFA only verified records of competitions under their own jurisdiction. So who was Godfrey Chitalu? He was born in Luanshya, Northern Rhodesia in October 1947 and started his senior playing career with Kitwe United in 1964. He was nicknamed “Ucar” after the supposedly everlasting Ucar car batteries manufactured by Union Carbide. Chitalu was playing for a top professional Zambian side, Kabwe Warriors as well as his country when his goalscoring proficiency reached its impressive zenith. In 1971 he scored a mere 89 goals for club and country but the following year was to prove mindboggling in terms of his proficiency in front of goal. Ironically 1972 was the year Gerd Muller set his accepted record of 85 goals. Analysing Chitalu’s records makes for remarkable reading, he scored eighteen hat-tricks during 1972 and during a run of nine games scored an incredible 25 times. In total during 1972 Godfrey Chitalu scored an astonishing 107 times in just 59 matches. What makes his record even more remarkable is there were eleven games where he failed to score at all meaning the 107 came in 48 scoring appearances! What is even more astounding is reports that the Zambian FA have discovered records that he scored a further nine times over two legs of an African Champions Cup tie against Matjantja although this has not been ratified by the organisers of that competition. 

Some of Chitalu’s performances are worth recording, for example he scored a double hat-trick against Kalalushi Modern Stars in a 12-3 victory at their home ground of the Railway Stadium. He also loved playing in the Chibuku Cup that season. In Kabwe’s opening game he got a hat-trick against Butuondo Tigers. In the quarter final against Buselio he scored five of Kabwe’s goals in a 10-2 massacre. In the semi-final he scored against Roan United in a tight 3-2 win at the Gabbitas Stadium. In the final staged at the Dag Hammarskjoeld Stadium, Chitalu shone once again scoring four for the Warriors in a 5-3 triumph over Rhokana United. In the Zambian Challenge Cup Final he scored two more in the 3-1 defeat of Ndola United. He also scored for the Zambia National XI against a touring Sheffield United in a 1-1 draw at the Independence Stadium. Some of his goals could be questioned as to whether they were first class matches, two came in an “exhibition match” for an All Stars XI against The Rest at the Buchi Stadium and three more came in two representative matches for the “Midlands XI” against the “Copperbelt XI”, but was is undoubted is they he did scored this vast quantity of goals in 1972 mainly in four competitions the Zambian Premier League, the Zambian Chibuku Cup, the Zambian Challenge Cup and the African Champions Cup. What does seem strange however is that it has taken Lionel Messi’s fantastic scoring feats for club and country for the case of Godfrey Chitalu to come to the world’s attention. Sadly no one will ever be able to verify all this with the man himself, Godfrey Chitalu was the manager of the Zambian national team when their plane crashed over Gabon in 1993, killing 30 people including Chitalu, who was only 45.

(Also published in the ”Miles Across The World” column in Southend United’s matchday programme v Plymouth Argyle 19/01/13)

13.Chitalu

13.Godfrey Chitalu 

13.Chitalu's grave

Date Played For Opponents Competition Score Goals Scored
27-Feb Kabwe Warriors Kitwe United Charity Shield 1-0 1
05-Mar Kabwe Warriors Zambia Police Premier League 5-2 2
11-Mar Kabwe Warriors Zambia Army Premier League 1-1 0
12-Mar Kabwe Warriors Maseru United Friendly 7-1 3
19-Mar Kabwe Warriors St.Michaels Africa Club Champions 2-1 1
25-Mar Kabwe Warriors Rhokana United Premier League 2-6 0
26-Mar Kabwe Warriors Mufulra Blackpool Premier League 2-3 0
31-Mar Kabwe Warriors Norco Rangers Chibuku Cup 14-2 3
02-Apr Kabwe Warriors Lusaka Tigers Premier League 4-0 1
09-Apr Kabwe Warriors St.Michaels Africa Club Champions 3-0 1
15-Apr Kabwe Warriors Rothmans Challenge Cup 10-0 3
16-Apr Kabwe Warriors Nchanga Rangers Premier League 2-1 2
22-Apr Kabwe Warriors Zambia Air Force Castle Cup 12-2 3
23-Apr Kabwe Warriors City of Lusaka Premier League 3-0 1
30-Apr Zambia Lesotho World Cup Qualifier 0-0 0
07-May Zambia Sheffield United Friendly 1-1 1
10-May Zambia Sheffield United Friendly 1-3 0
14-May Zambia Sheffield United Friendly 1-4 0
21-May Kabwe Warriors Butondo White Tigers Premier League 3-2 2
22-May Kabwe Warriors Ndola United Premier League 3-1 2
28-May Kabwe Warriors Kalukashi Modern Stars Premier League 12-3 6
04-Jun Zambia Lesotho World Cup Qualifier 6-1 2
10-Jun Kabwe Warriors Kalukashi Modern Stars Challenge Cup 7-3 2
11-Jun Kabwe Warriors Rhokana United Castle Cup 5-3 2
17-Jun Kabwe Warriors Butondo White Tigers Chibuku Cup 6-1 3
18-Jun Kabwe Warriors Zambia Police Premier League 7-1 4
25-Jun Kabwe Warriors Mufulra Wanderers Castle Cup QF 3-2 2
28-Jun Kabwe Warriors Zambia Army Premier League 3-4 0
02-Jul Kabwe Warriors Rhokana United Premier League 1-4 1
04-Jul Kabwe Warriors Union Espanola Friendly 1-1 0
07-Jul Zambia Union Espanola Friendly 1-1 1
09-Jul Zambia Union Espanola Friendly 0-1 0
17-Jul Kabwe Warriors Lusaka Tigers Premier League 6-1 3
22-Jul Kabwe Warriors Butondo White Tigers Challenge Cup QF 10-0 2
23-Jul Kabwe Warriors Butondo White Tigers Premier League 5-0 4
30-Jul Kabwe Warriors Nchanga Rangers Premier League 1-1 1
05-Aug Kabwe Warriors Buselio Chibuku Cup QF 10-2 5
06-Aug Kabwe Warriors Zambia Eagles Challenge Cup SF 3-0 1
12-Aug Kabwe Warriors Mufulra Wanderers Premier League 5-1 4
14-Aug All Stars The Rest Exhibition Match 4-3 2
20-Aug Kabwe Warriors Roan United Castle Cup SF 6-1 5
27-Aug Kabwe Warriors Ndola United Premier League 2-2 1
03-Sep Kabwe Warriors Ndola United Challenge Cup Final 3-1 1
10-Sep Kabwe Warriors Roan United Chibuku Cup SF 3-2 2
17-Sep Kabwe Warriors Rhokana United Chibuku Cup Final 5-3 4
01-Oct Kabwe Warriors Hearts of Oak Africa Club Champions 2-7 1
15-Oct Kabwe Warriors Hearts of Oak Africa Club Champions 1-2 1
28-Oct Kabwe Warriors Roan United Premier League 4-1 3
29-Oct Kabwe Warriors Wanderers Premier League 7-1 3
05-Nov Kabwe Warriors Kitwe United Castle Cup Final 6-1 3
11-Nov Kabwe Warriors Kitwe United Premier League 1-1 0
12-Nov Kabwe Warriors City of Lusaka Premier League 9-2 4
18-Nov Kabwe Warriors Kalukashi Modern Stars Premier League 4-2 3
19-Nov Kabwe Warriors Roan United Premier League Abandoned 0
26-Nov Kabwe Warriors Kitwe United Premier League 4-0 2
09-Dec Midland XI Copperbelt XI NFL Trophy 2-5 1
10-Dec Midland XI Copperbelt XI NFL Trophy 5-3 2
        Total: 107
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