Saturday marked exactly 21 years since his death.
Ashious Jordan Melu (6 June 1957 – 20 January 1997) also known as Ashios or Ashols Melu was a Zambian footballer and coach who captained the national team from 1988 to 1992 and is credited with having one of the hardest shots in Zambian football
Melu was born in Chililabombwe on 6 JUne 1957 and attended Chililabombwe Secondary School and turned out for the Konkola Blades before moving to the Mufulira Wanderers in the late 1970s.
Melu played as a striker and was top goal scorer in the Zambian league in 1983, scoring 43 goals in all competitions with most of them scored from distance and free-kicks, and winning the Zambian Footballer of the Year award. Melu had the distinction of having the hottest shot in the league and he got called up to the national team but did not hold down a regular place.
Alongside Efford Chabala, Kalusha Bwalya, Frederick Kashimoto, Evans Katebe and the Mulala brothers, and later Charles Musonda, Jonson Bwalya and Gibby Mbasela, Melu would be part of a Wanderers team that was very successful in cup competitions in the 1980s though they never actually won the league championship.
At the beginning of the 1986 football season, a few eyebrows were raised when Melu converted into a defender for Wanderers but his performances in defence were impressive enough to earn him a call-up to the national team and he still weighed in with his share of goals from dead ball situations. Melu represented the country at the African Cup of Nations in 1986, in which Zambia was eliminated in the first round.
In 1987, Melu won his second Footballer of the Year award making it an almost clean sweep by Wanderers players with Kalusha Bwalya (1984) Jonson Bwalya (1986) and Efford Chabala missing out on the award but winning the Sportsman of the Year trophy in 1985.
In 1988 Melu took over as Zambian captain when Fighton Simukonda was dropped after the President’s Cup tournament in June in South Korea. Later in the year, Melu led the team to the Seoul Olympic games, in which Zambia became the first African country to reach the quarter finals, disposing of Italy and Guatemala along the way with 4-0 scorelines, losing to West Germany by the same margin.
Already past his 30th birthday, Melu surprised a lot of fans when he signed for Greek club Olympiacos FC on a three-year contract. Melu later played for an Austrian club for a year before returning to feature for Zambia at Africa Cup of Nations in 1992 which proved to be his last outing for Zambia due to stiff competition from Samuel Chomba and Robert Watiyakeni. As a result, Melu was not part of the team that perished in the Gabon disaster the following year.
COACHING CAREER AND HIS DEATH
Melu turned to coaching and was first appointed assistant coach at the Wanderers in 1992 before taking over as head coach. In the interim, he attended a coaching course in Germany.
In 1994, he was named Zambia national team assistant coach to Roald Poulsen. He then led the Wanderers to back to back league championships in 1995 and 1996 achieving what he did not as a player and netting the Wanderers their first league success since 1978.
Before the beginning of the 1997 season with the Wanderers, Melu fell ill and died in early 1997.