He formed what would become arguably the biggest football institution in South Africa, but it couldn’t have been easy for Kaizer Motaung to turn down $1m back in 1969…
Motaung celebrates his 75th birthday today, and will be delighted to see that the team he formed half a century ago is sitting pretty on top of the Absa Premiership table with almost a third of the 2019/20 season gone.
‘Chincha Guluva’, who has played a critical role in the growth of South African football, has from young hopeful to professional player, to club owner, to Mzansi football royalty over the course of his lifetime, but who knows what would have happened if he’d taken the money and remained in the USA in the 1970s rather than return to the country of his birth.
A statement on the club’s official website to mark Motaung’s birthday read, “Like many kids in the townships, he started playing football from a young age. He was a star player in high school and caught the eyes of scouts. At age sixteen, he was recruited to join Orlando Pirates juniors. He didn’t play long for the juniors as he was promoted to the senior team.
“‘Bra K’, as he is affectionately known, impressed scouts and moved to Zambia for a trial before joining Atlanta Chiefs in the United States of America… He played against greats such as Pelé who was playing for Brazilian side Santos.
“In 1969, he turned down $1 million to remain in the States to realise his dream of forming his own club. He started Kaizer’s XI and they played their first game on 20 September 1969.
“As a 24-year-old player, he went on to officially form Kaizer Chiefs on 7 January 1970.”
Chiefs celebrate 50 years of existence early next year, and will be hoping to mark their half-century by bringing to an end the longest trophy drought in their history with the Telkom Knockout, Nedbank Cup or Absa Premiership trophy.