Just weeks before the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda began, football briefly united the small land-locked African country in joy.
Club side Rayon Sport had pulled off one of the greatest victories in the country's history by beating Sudan's Al Hilal 4-1 in an African Champions League second leg match.
The celebrations saw the majority Hutu and minority Tutsi celebrate a seminal victory.
This week's Team 33 interviewee Eric Eugene Murangwa was part of that Rayon Sport side and yet, but for the intervention of luck and the kindness of a team-mate, the former Rwanda international goalkeeper would have perished when the Genocide was unleashed.
You can listen back to the full interview with Eric Eugene Murangwa on the podcast player or stream/download on iTunes:
A member of the Tutsi community that were targeted for extermination by Hutu extremists during a horrific 100 day period, Murangwa happened to be watching an Africa Cup of Nations game in a bar in the capital Kigali when the plane carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi were shot down by unknown assailants.
That proved to be the spark that unleashed a wave of savagery against Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
Shortly after, five armed soldiers burst into Murangwa's home and it appeared that his life would be coming to an end in the minutes that followed. Luck intervened!
"They just came into the house and asked us to lie down on the floor and they went around the house, throwing things up and down, shouting, kicking us, telling us that we'd pay a big price for having killed the [Rwandan] president.
"It was a horrific experience to go through. We really thought they would kill us," he told me.
"It was a horrific experience to go through. We really thought they would kill us" This week on OTB's Team 33, Eric Eugene Murangwa tells Raf Diallo how football literally saved him from certain death during the genocide in Rwanda http://www.offtheball.com/Soccer/team-33-eric-eugene-murangwa-rwanda-interview #Rwanda #football #genocide #team33 #otb
A post shared by Off The Ball (@offtheball) on
"Luckily enough, when they were throwing things up and down, one of the things that they threw in the air and landed on the ground wide open was an album full of my football team photos – and the photos caught the attention of one of the soldiers. He picked up the album and looked at the photos closely and then he came to realise that the person who he was almost about to kill, who he has spent the last 10-minutes accusing of being a threat, was actually someone who he has been a great supporter of for some time.
"One minute you see that you're so close to death and then the next minute, you're sitting with the man who had your life in his hands and he's telling you how much he admires you."
In the full interview, Murangwa, who was awarded an MBE in the 2018 New Years Honours List in the UK, explains how a Hutu club team-mate, who would ultimately pay the "ultimate price" would later save his life once again; how a genocide perpetrator affiliated to his club also helped protect him; how the atmosphere in Rwanda deteriorated in the years and months leading up to the genocide; and how he has used football in the years since to bring about reconciliation in Rwanda through his work as founder and Executive Managing Officer of Football for Hope Peace and Unity and Survivors Tribune.
Recent interviews on Team 33 include former Man United cult hero Andrei Kanchelskis, ex-England international Carlton Palmer, former Newcastle and Everton left back Alessandro Pistone, Chelsea legends Bobby Tambling and Paddy Mulligan, Dutch legend Johan Neeskens, ex-England striker Darius Vassell, Liverpool legend David Fairclough, former Ireland midfielder Mark Kinsella and former Everton forward Tomasz Radzinski. Plus our in-depth chats with Tony Coton, Packie Bonner, Nobby Solano, Ron Atkinson and Alan Curbishley are still available on iTunes. You can find them all in one place by subscribing to Team 33 on iTunes.