Daine Klate has become the most decorated active Premier Soccer League footballer after bagging a record sixth Absa Premiership title to add to his eight cup-winner’s medals. The Bidvest Wits midfielder played a key part in deciding both the club’s trophi
Scoring a brace in their emphatic 3-0 win over Mamelodi Sundowns in the MTN8 final last year was as perfect a start to a season as Daine Klate could have wished for, as he ended his own two-year drought and his club’s six-year spell without silverware. That set the tone for a season ending in similar fashion as Wits marched to a maiden league title in their 96-year history. “The MTN8 was a very good start to the season and, for the club having gone the past six seasons without silverware and coming ever so close to winning the league, I think it was a monkey off the back,” declares Klate. Reflecting on dethroning Sundowns, Klate believes Cape Town City proved decisive in the title race by completing the double over the defending champions, thus paving the way for Wits to claim the championship. “Last season Sundowns were by far the best team,” he admits. “I mean, 71 points is a huge tally. I’ve never won the league with that amount of points with any team before, so they were never going to be beaten. “The coach told us last season that for a team like Wits to win the league you need the likes of Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs to compete, but fortunately for us it was Cape Town City who managed to be up there and even do us a favour by beating Sundowns twice.
“We needed a race where the top
teams needed to beat each other so that the points margin would be lower, and that’s why 60 points were enough this season. You stand no chance competing alone with Sundowns, which they showed in the past few seasons, so it helps a lot when a few teams compete at the top to cancel each other out.” After winning five league titles spread across two different clubs in consecutive years, many dubbed Klate the “league’s lucky charm” and felt that wherever he goes the Absa Premiership trophy follows. True to the tale, the 32-year-old bagged his sixth title at his third club. “Prior to joining Wits, I followed the club’s progress in the season before
when they hey ended third, so when we managed ed to finish second last season it showed wed that consistent building towardss the ultimate target of ending top,” hee explains.
“I felt likeike we almost gave it away,
but luckilykily for us Sundowns weren’t at theirr best at critical times and we were firing ring when it counted most. For Wits s to win the league title for the first time me in 96 years is massive, and I’m just happy to be a part of that. “It happened appened at SuperSport United, where I was part of the team that won the e club’s first-ever league title, and then en I moved on to Pirates, where they had gone eight years without t a trophy, and I was part of the team m that made history there too. So it’s nice to realise that wherever I’ve gone,ne, I not only won titles but was alsoo part of the clubs’ history.” Looking king back at the seasons in which Klate previously won league titles, he e played a telling role in all but two, o, in both of which he missed half thee season through a recurring shoulder er injury that required surgery. This season ason he missed just five league games, , starting 17 and making eight substitute ute apperances, while scoring three goals oals and assisting seven. “Helpingping teams in crucial moments is one part where I’ve come good,” he says. s. “I think the third league title at SuperSporterSport stands out, where I played 29 games and was the top goal scorer orer at the club. Last season, again I was top goalscorer at Wits but we obviously didn’t win the league.. This season I played a slightly differentnt role, but I still contributed at vital stagesages of the season, when the
team needed me the most. “It’s just about being a team player and having the will to win and making sacrifices, not only for yourself but also for the team. You go in early, try to do extra work and leave last – try to lead by example. Doing all that doesn’t only benefit yourself, but also the team. That’s something you always need to think about. It’s what the Cristiano Ronaldos, Lionel Messis, and David Beckhams of this world have all done to become who they are. “If I think about it now, maybe I could have even done more over the years, but winning all the league titles and contributing towards my teams’ successes is proof that I only want to win and I dislike losing.”
At 32, many professional footballers
are entering the twilight stages of their careers, but the Port Elizabeth-
“I MISSED OUT ON THE 2010 WORLD CUP, AND THAT WAS THE BIGGEST STAGE ... SINCE THEN I’VE ACCEPTED THAT CERTAIN THINGS ARE BEYOND MY CONTROL.”
(Below) At 32, Klate still has what it takes to play at the top. born man still looks evergreen as he competes at the same level with youngsters such as teenagers Phakamani Mahlambi and Reeve Frosler, while also offering them him pearls of wisdom. “I’m getting to a point where my role is changing with my age. I’ve played 13 seasons now, but I can’t merely talk and tell the younger players what they need to – it’s about showing them what to do. I start by making sure I’m never late for training, I respect my time at the club because it’s my job, so I show how much I love being there and that’s important,” he explains. “I’ve realised that everything I have today is because of football, so I need to get the message across that it’s important to respect the game in
order for the game to reward you. Once I can get that message across, there’s no way they [youngsters in the team] can go wrong. “I’ve seen so much talent go to waste over the years – my former teammates Masibusane Zongo and Junior Khanye both went wayward because they had no respect for the game, and they took the opportunity of playing football for granted. Football doesn’t owe anyone anything and that’s something that needs to be engaved into every young player.” Just under four years ago Klate was contesting in his maiden CAF Champions League final, when Pirates lost out to Egyptian giants Al Ahly. He now has an opportunity to travel the distance once again, and possibly go one better with a Wits side who he helped to their first ever domestic double.
“With the interest in CAF
competitions from South African clubs growing, after we did so well with Pirates and made the country realise that we can actually compete in Africa, it’s definitely something to look forward to,” Klate says. “Sundowns winning last year also proves that it’s important for the country that our clubs take it seriously, because it bodes well for the league and the national team. “Obviously it’s still difficult, with the PSL calendar and the CAF calendar running disjointedly, as we’ve seen with Sundowns struggling to keep up now after doing so well last year. But having personally been there with Pirates, the experience was second to none.
“It’s a bit different here at Wits at the
moment because just 12 years ago the club was playing in the National First Division and they’ve now got their first ever top-flight league title. It’s important for me to look at the club’s ambitions before getting ahead of ourselves and start saying we want to win the Champions League, but, personally, I’d love to give it a good go. “We fell short this year against Al Ahly because of one goal we conceded from a set-piece in Cairo, but that experience alone helped us to kick on and win the league.” Having made history with a sixth league title and winning everything else on offer on the domestic football scene, there can’t be much else for Klate to aim at now. His biological clock may be winding down, but is Bafana Bafana still within his sights? Perhaps playing the 2019 Nations Cup in Cameroon, or possibly even the World Cup in Russia in next year? “I’ve pretty much achieved everything here, it’s just about taking it one season at a time and seeing how long I can go with the same passion and desire to keep playing,” he says. “I don’t really want to reopen the talks of my international career. “With ‘Vision 2022’, there’s no real place for me to be in that set-up. I actually said that two years ago, but then found myself back in the team again last year. But I firmly believe everything happens the way it should, and I have no hard feelings. I also have no drive to try and earn a place in the Bafana team. “Should we qualify for the World Cup or Afcon then maybe I stand a chance, but I won’t lose any sleep trying to achieve that. The last time I missed out on the 2010 World Cup, and that was the biggest stage ... since then I’ve accepted that certain things are beyond my control. “When I’m done playing one day, at whatever age, I’ll be able to say I have absolutely no regrets, whether I get another one, two or five more caps. I think I’ve enjoyed great success in my career and I’ve done pretty well for myself and the teams I’ve played for. I have no goals set for Bafana at this stage of my career, but I’m still behind the team, obviously. If I’m there then great, but if not then no hard feelings.”
(Below) Klate celebrates with teammate Moeneeb Josephs and family.