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Robert Earnshaw reflects on the plane crash that killed Zambian national football team in 1993


Robert Earnshaw reflects on the plane crash that killed Zambian national football team in 1993

Former professional footballer Robert Earnshaw presents the four-part series…

BBC World Service’s latest season of Amazing Sport Stories ‘Copper Bullets’ tells the story of the deadly plane crash that killed the Zambian men’s national football team in 1993, and how the country rallied together in its aftermath.

In a new four-part season of Amazing Sports Stories, we hear the tragic story of the plane crash that took the lives of the Zambian men’s national football team in 1993, at the peak of their success. Presenter and former international footballer Robert Earnshaw sets out on a journey to learn more about this extraordinary story.

Robert Earnshaw:

“This story is tragic, romantic, powerful, and simply one of the most fascinating football stories of all time. While narrating the story, I was especially moved given that as a football player I travelled on flights internationally the same as ‘The Copper Bullets’ (The Zambia Football Team), and it’s incredible that some of my family were supposed to be on that plane.”

Zambia excelled at the 1988 Olympics, bursting onto the global football stage with an exceptionally talented generation of players. The team was a point of pride for the whole nation and by 1993 they were in a great position to qualify for the World Cup for the first time ever.

However, the nation’s dreams were shattered when the plane carrying the team – nicknamed the KKXI after the Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda – crashed in Gabon in 1993. The tragedy broke the nation’s hearts and had a devastating impact on the families of the crash victims. But the Zambian people were defiant, and a new team was assembled to continue the World Cup dream and compete in the Africa Cup of Nations, the biggest football tournament in Africa.

Incredibly, this new, hastily assembled team went much, much further than anyone could have possibly imagined. In this new instalment of Amazing Sports Stories, Robert speaks to players and managers, obtaining first-hand accounts of the dramatic story of the World Cup qualifying campaign and Africa Cup of Nations in 1994.

Born in Zambia and raised in South Wales, Robert Earnshaw made his international debut for Wales in 2002, later playing for the Premier League.

Along the way, the production hears from ex-footballers, journalists, football fans, academics and ordinary Zambian citizens. The first episode of Copper Bullets will be available as a podcast on BBC Sounds on Monday 10 June and more widely available on other podcast platforms from Monday 17 June. Episodes will be released weekly. Copper Bullets will air weekly on BBC World Service radio from Saturday 13 July.

“Copper Bullets is produced by Richard Power and George Hodkinson. It is a 7digital Production for the BBC World Service. Amazing Sport Stories is the BBC World Service podcast about sport but not as you know it. There are other podcasts about champions, team news and millionaire superstars – this one is about courage, rulebreakers and expecting the unexpected. We’ve searched the world for these tales which are told in mini-seasons and short stories.”BBC

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