Chitipa United retires Abel Mwakilama’s number 7 shirt

Abel Mwakilama

Chitipa United have announced that they have retired their number 7 shirt in the wake of Abel ” The Scorpion” Mwakilama’s death.

Mwakilama, a former United starlet, died in Portugal on the 20th of this month after succumbing to cerebral malaria.

Abel Mwakilama
Mwakilama (R): Chitipa have retired his number.

The Malawi national under 20 striker moved to Portugal early this year to join third-tier side Club Sporting de Esmoriz after representing Chitipa with distinction at both elite and lower league level.

According to Pickford Kamanga, Chitipa general secretary, the decision to withdraw the shirt number has been made as one way of honouring the 19 year old.

“We have decided to honour him posthumously for raising the flag of Chitipa and Malawi as a nation. So this jersey number will never be worn again at this club.”

Kamanga however admitted that it was not easy to get to the decision.

“Being the first time in Malawi for a club to take such a step, we had to be cautious on how the community around us would welcome the idea, but fortunate enough they embraced the move and we feel proud to honour Abel in such a way,” he said.

Mwakilama was the first Malawian to land a deal in Portugal straight from the local leagues.

The Scorpion fired Chitipa to the flagship league in 2017 after a string of stellar displays that saw him bag the 2016 Simama Northern Region Football League golden boot award.

He then had a brief spell with Moyale Barracks before returning to Chitipa to lead their unsuccessful season-long campaign in the elite league.

Mwakilama chose the number 7 shirt to follow his idol, Cristiano Ronaldo, of Real Madrid and Portugal.

When with the junior national team, he was commanding the number 17 shirt, just to stay in touch with the 7.

His body is expected to arrive in the country on Friday this week, with the funeral programme to follow.

Cases of honouring fallen players in such fashion are not new in world football.

The latest case globally is that of Italian clubs Florentina and Cagliari who withdew their number 13 shirts in honour of defender Davide Astori, who was found dead in his hotel room in March this year.