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.
Shoes, who are some of the funny players you’ve played with?
I’ve played with a few, like Edward Motale! One time we had gone to play in Nigeria and we used to gamble to keep the clock ticking. The Nigerian currency is the Naira and when we changed our rands for it, it would be so much money. When you are rich, you become a millionaire, and when Eddie won in the gambling, he would say he’s a Nairanaire, ha, ha. Jerry Sikhosana was arrogant at times and very short-tempered. The one time he absconded from training and I was sent by the club to go to his house and convince him to come back. And let me tell you, it was not an easy task to get Jerry to do what he didn’t want to do. Hey, I was careful that day! It was also very scary when we went to play the final of the Caf Champions League in Abidjan. The fans would draw their fingers across their throats and say that they’d slaughter us. Sometimes some of our players would come up to me and say, “Hey, did you hear what those people said?” But I had a way of calming them down. Our most famous player there was Helman Mkhalele and they used to call him Makélélé. We teased him that the reason they liked him was because of his dark complexion.
Tell us more.
Tebogo Moloi used to spend a lot of time in front of the mirror and we had to wait for him before games. One time I shared a room with him in the national U23 team before we were readmitted to international football. I had put my takkies somewhere in the room and when I looked for them again, I couldn’t find them and went to ask Tebza. It turns out he had taken the takkies and put them in the corridor of the hotel. He told me, “Ta Shoes, hayi lama takkie wakho ayanuka (your takkies are stinking)!” He was a very neat guy.
Any funny stories from your time at Moroka Swallows?
Our coach Mario Tuani couldn’t speak proper English and it was tough to grasp the meaning of what he was saying. His vocabulary was crippled! The first time I played under him, he wanted to tell the players to give me a round of applause for being in the starting line-up. He didn’t know how to say it, so he showed us his hands, clapped and said, “Do this for the player I selection.” Everyone just laughed! He was always impressed with how strong I was. He asked my teammates the one time, “Tell me, you take Benito. You put him in a room with a donkey. You close the door. Who comes out?” While the likes of Thomas Hlongwane seemed confused, Tuani said, “Benito comes out and the donkey goes to the hospital!” Ha, ha, ha.
Ha, ha, ha, right!
There was also Mike Makaab at Pirates and we won the 1995 Caf Champions League with him at the helm and we had top players at the time, like John Moeti, Marks Maponyane, Motale, Mkhalele, Vusi Mncwango, Marc Batchelor and Gavin Lane. During one team talk, the guys asked Makaab, “How do you know what you’re doing since you’ve never played football?” He had to explain his background and he was really in a tight corner. In his defence, he said, “Look, I played top, top, top, top amateur football.” Marks Maponyane said, “No, don’t play with us, man. It’s either amateur or professional.” Eish…players sometimes. Why did they have to ask him about his background? There was also Viktor Bondarenko. He would issue instructions in a funny way. He would tell the defenders, “At the back, you slide like a crocodile all the time. In the midfield, you attack like a lion.” On the wings we had Helman and Brandon Silent, and Bondarenko would tell them, “Helma, Brenda, on the side, up and down like dogs…up and down!”
You must have some funny stories from the field.
Marks was very good with the bicycle kicks but he had lost some agility as he was ageing. In one game he wanted to indulge in the scissors kick, but the ball didn’t go anywhere. The ball was spinning next to his head, so he got up and ran, leaving the ball behind. We teased him about that and it was the first time I heard him threatening to beat someone up for teasing him. He was the softest person in the team! While I was at Swallows, we played against Kaizer Chiefs and I was very hard on their strikers on the day. When I played, I never used to talk. It was a very physical game, so the referee stopped the game. The Chiefs guys pleaded with my teammates, “Please talk to this guy, he’s kicking us to pieces.” Ha, ha, my teammates said, “Eish, we also don’t know how to speak to this guy. We actually think he’s going mad!” Yhoo, that made the Chiefs guys even more scared!
Lastly, tell us about muti back then.
Muti was something else and one time we almost died at Swallows. Eish, David Chabeli! There was this thing of ukufutha where we had to gather around a primus stove and there was boiling water in the pot and we had to cover ourselves with blankets until we started sweating. Our goalkeeper Larry Park was feeling the heat and he tipped over the primus stove, probably by mistake, and we almost didn’t play that day as we nearly got burnt. Our inyanga always had good excuses when we lost. He would say, “One of you didn’t go to camp yesterday and had sex last night, that’s why you lost.” I lost trust in those things when our inyanga at Abidjan was scared to go into the dressing room. There was blood sprinkled all over the change room and the guy didn’t want to go in. Can you believe it! Imagine, ha, ha!
IN TOUCH FUN FACTS:
Best player I’ve ever faced: Too many to mention
Best player I’ve played with: Too many to mention
Biggest pay cheque: R6 000 a month
Smallest pay cheque: R600 a month
Team that used the most muti: No comment
Favourite current player: Lucas Thwala
Current occupation: School principal
Previous clubs: Moroka Swallows, Orlando Pirates