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Still In Touch With Carlos das Neves

Soccer Laduma’s ‘In Touch’ & ‘Still In Touch’ feature has been a fan favourite for almost two decades in Soccer Laduma’s weekly newspaper. 

Millions of readers turn to it first each week to read the crazy stories that Mzansi’s former players tell and to see current soccer stars dish the dirt on their teammates and coaches. 

Over the years, together with our readers, we have laughed uncontrollably and gasped with disbelief at stories that have never been told before!

Due to the incredible success and reading pleasure over the years and the timeless nature of this incredible content, Soccer Laduma has dug through the archives to bring back to life some of the gems you may have missed, or simply want to re-read and share with your friends. 

This week, we look back to 20 January 2010 in issue number 654, where Carlos das Neves opened up about some of the crazy stuff they got up to at Hellenic as players. The former Vasco da Gama coach also shares a funny incident about the then Vasco coach deciding to officiate a game as he wasn’t happy about the referee’s officiating.

Das Neves started his professional career at Vasco da Gama in 1986 and went on to play for Hellenic, where he made a name for himself and became one of the most recognised players in Cape football. However, he says he regrets one thing, “I never got caps for the national team and for me that was disappointing. I went to a training camp with Bafana Bafana in Germany but didn’t make the cut. But I never played football full time - it was always part-time. I was either studying or working.”

Carlos, who did you usually share a room with during your time at Hellenic?

I used to share with Andrew Tucker. He was a bit of a character and was braver than me. That I can tell you! One time we were in the room and this big toad appeared out of nowhere. It was a scary experience and I jumped into the bed. I told myself there was no way I was going to touch it as it was as big as my hand. You know what Andrew did? He got hold of it, put it into the bin and then threw it out of the room. Ha, ha!

We know you guys used to love singing the old Afrikaans songs before games. Who were the lead singers?

Reggie Jantjies was one of them, there was Neville Payne, Mark Williams would sing every now and then, as well as Neil Bush and Faried de Goede. It used to happen a lot that when the plane landed, we would all stand up and sing. It was really nice and touching, but obviously that doesn’t happen these days.

Who were Hellenic’s crazy players?

Taswald Human was funny. He said he was once attacked by a tokoloshe, so he decided to tie this piece of string around his stomach to scare away the tokoloshe. It was quite strange. Here we were going to play a soccer game, and one of our teammates had this piece of string around his stomach! We started calling the piece of string a tokoloshe and the name ended up sticking with Taswald. There were some really crazy players in the team, like Pat Van den Hauwe who came from England to play for us. He did one or two crazy things, like one night when we went to play in Jo’burg. He sat in the boot of the car as there was no space inside! Ja, those were crazy times. Mark and David Byrne were also characters and Gavin Hunt had a few chirps to make, while Reggie was funny at times. He used to fight a lot with one of our goalkeepers and that was quite amusing. At halftime they would have an argument and fists would fly. Even at training, we would be all serious and then, all of a sudden, the two guys would be at it fighting each other!

Tell us about some of the funny incidents you’ve seen on the field of play.

There was this one time we went to Jo’burg to play Orlando Pirates. It was in 1997. Colin Gie was our coach and Augusto Palacios was coaching Pirates. Pirates had a strong team that year while we had a team with youngsters. In those days the league was relaxed and there was no fence around the stadium. They had big support. We went into a 3- 0 lead and each time we scored, their supporters would leave their seats and move closer to the action. They felt that their team and their coach weren’t putting in enough effort. When we scored the second goal, they moved even closer and by the time we had scored the third goal, they were right around the field, baying for Palacios’ blood! Fortunately the police and the army came and saved the situation. It was funny at the time, but scary as well.

It must have been risky playing football back then.

The only time we felt really scared was on the long trips by bus or car. Back then we used to hire cars and the most dangerous part was the drive. After the games we had to rush back to the airport. We did so much in one day! On the morning of the game, we would fly in, rush to the field, drive to the airport after the game and go back home. This happened a lot when we played Free State Stars. And you had to drive as fast as possible, which wasn’t safe. But what could we do? Often when we went to play against Umtata Bush Bucks, we would meet cows and sheep on the road and we had to wait for them to cross. One time our car hit a horse!

Can you remember your most embarrassing moment?

It was when I was sent off. By the way, I was only sent off once in my whole career. We were playing against Manning Rangers and one of their players pushed me in the stomach. I retaliated by pushing him back and the referee saw me. I got quite a lot of abuse from my coach and the club management for that. They suggested that I should have hit the player. The coach said, “If you are ever going to get sent off, make sure it is for hitting the player rather than just shoving him slightly.” Ha, ha, ha!

You haven’t told us about your famous coach, the late Budgie Byrne!

Budgie was very, very witty and made these funny comments. One day he told us that our defence was so hopeless a bus could pass through it, never mind a soccer ball! Back then teams used any ball they liked on match day. One time we were playing Free State Stars and before the game, Budgie walked onto the field, picked up the ball and said, “This ball was bought at Shoprite or Pick ’n Pay, there’s no way we’re going to play with it!” Then he kicked it off the field and we were all laughing, ha, ha, ha. Can you imagine?

Ha, ha, ha, crazy stuff!

Another funny incident happened when I was coaching Vasco da Gama. The late Peter Martin was the referee and we were playing a friendly game against Hellenic, who were coached by Clemens Westerhof. Clemens kept on moaning about the way Peter was officiating. Then Peter told him, “Why don’t you come and ref the match because you think you know so much?” Clemens said, “I will do that!” and Peter gave him the whistle. Ha, ha, Clemens actually refereed the game. I thought that was really funny. It’s not often that you see a coach who has coached top class teams in the World Cup refereeing a game between Vasco da Gama and Hellenic.



Best player I’ve ever faced:

Roger Feutmba & Ernest Chirwali

Best player I’ve played with: Too many to mention

Biggest pay cheque: R20 000

Smallest pay cheque: R800

Former team that used the most muti: Don’t know, hey

Favourite current player: Mabhudi Khenyeza

Current occupation: Chartered Accountant & Vasco da Gama coach

Former teams: Vasco da Gama, Cape Town Spurs, Hellenic, FC Fortune


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