Chris Ndlovu was a quiet guy, but when it came to football, he let his feet do the talking.
He was clever and fast, using this to ‘roll away’ from his opponents. Hence, the nickname, ‘Rollaway’. The former Kaizer Chiefs midfielder passed away on 11 April 2020.
Ndlovu was born in Pimville, Soweto and it was only natural that he would play for the local soccer giants, Pimville United Brothers (PUBS). The intelligent attacking midfielder made his name as a soccer star at this club.
However, when PUBS got into financial trouble in 1974, most of the players decided to leave. While a majority of their stars joined Orlando Pirates, Ndlovu came to Kaizer Chiefs in 1975, staying at the club for four seasons.
“Our manager Ewert Nene convinced him to join Chiefs,” remembers Amakhosi’s former goalkeeper Joseph ‘Banks’ Setlhodi. “We actually thought that Chris would join Pirates, like the others. But Ewert was amazing, he got things done and convinced Chris to join Chiefs instead.”
VIDEO: Ndlovu, jersey number 8, playing for SA Black XI against Argentina in 1976.
Another player who joined Amakhosi before Ndlovu from PUBS was Jerry Sadike. The skilful right winger came to Chiefs in 1973.
“Chris was incredibly fast,” confirms Sadike, who played with Ndlovu at both PUBS and Chiefs, “He wasn’t the most skilful, like some other Chiefs players, like Ace Ntsoelengoe or Kaizer Motaung. But he was like a machine, he could run the whole day.”
Another former Chiefs footballer at the time, Johannes ‘Big Boy’ Kholoane adds: “Chris was as strong as an ox. He played to the whistle…He would outrun opponents, be found joining the attack and, accordingly, being back in defence when needed. He only stopped running when the referee blew the whistle at the end of 90 minutes.”
Rollaway didn’t score too many goals, he was mostly a creator. However, he did find the back of the net in the Gold and Black jersey, including against his former team, PUBS on 26 July 1975. His brace helped Chiefs to a 2-0 victory.
Ndlovu left Amakhosi in 1978, moving to Pretoria Callies. However, he only stayed for a few months at the Atteridgeville-based club, before going into coaching. He went on to coach clubs in Bophuthatswana and later on, at the Transnet School of Excellence.
Rollaway’s twin brother, Isaac ‘Negro’ Ndlovu was also a strong midfielder, playing for PUBS as well.
Ndlovu was born on 31 August 1945 and passed away a few days ago. He leaves behind a son and a daughter.
By Kaizer Chiefs