For the of the Ci­ti­zens

Cape Argus - - SPORT - ROD­NEY REINERS rod­

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD Ma­teo Manousakis has be­come one of the most recog­nised faces in the PSL. The cheru­bic kid leads the Cape Town City squad in their pre-match singing and danc­ing rou­tines.

He knows the words to all the songs and he moves and dances in tune. He’s a delight to watch and his en­thu­si­asm for lo­cal foot­ball and the City play­ers are in­fec­tious. As a re­sult, the kid is a mas­sive hit with foot­ball fans across the coun­try; he is a so­cial me­dia and in­ter­net sen­sa­tion.

In fact, it’s prob­a­bly a bit bizarre in that Ma­teo’s fa­ther, Vasili, is Benni McCarthy’s as­sis­tant-coach at City: and, yet, while the dad goes about his busi­ness qui­etly be­hind the scenes, the young son has be­come a bit of a celebrity, with a cult fol­low­ing in the PSL.

“I didn’t ex­pect it at all,” said Manousakis about his son’s pop­u­lar­ity. “He’s al­ways showed an in­ter­est in foot­ball, even back when he was four or five and came down to train­ing when I was at FC Cape Town. But I think, here at City, it’s just the amaz­ing team spirit that took him in; he has the love and re­spect from the play­ers, he can feel it, it’s real, and they al­ways want to see him.

“I guess it’s not of­ten that you see it – a white kid ob­sessed with the PSL – but that’s what it is. He knows all the play­ers. For him, it’s not about Man United, or Chelsea or Liver­pool, it’s all about the PSL.”

As for Ma­teo, he didn’t want to talk too much about his singing and danc­ing, or the fact that it has made him so pop­u­lar among foot­ball fans. He had only one fo­cus – and that was on the clash be­tween City and Chiefs at the Cape Town Sta­dium to­mor­row. He can’t wait for the ac­tion to get un­der­way.

“I think City will beat Chiefs 2-0, with (Craig) Martin and Shaka (Siphelele Mthembu) to score against his old team,” said Ma­teo. “And there will be an­other clean sheet for Peter (Leeuwen­burgh), he hasn’t let a goal in at Cape Town Sta­dium yet.

“We must watch out for Chiefs’ (Khama) Bil­liat and (Leonardo) Cas­tro … but I think that Thami (Mkhize) and Tara ( Taariq Fielies) can stop them.”

Ma­teo is also look­ing for­ward to see­ing for­mer City play­ers Le­bo­gang Manyama and Bon­go­lethu Jayiya again. The duo now play for Chiefs.

“I can’t wait to hug Lebo when I see him be­cause he was our old cap­tain – but he must be on the bench; I don’t want him to play against us,” said the seven-year-old City mas­cot.

As for the sup­port­ers, Ma­teo said: “I will see all the fans be­fore the game, at half-time and af­ter the game. They must fill the sta­dium on Satur­day – and the City fans must wear blue and white be­cause there are al­ways so many Chiefs fans in yel­low.”

Ma­teo Manousakis has be­come an in­te­gral part of the cul­ture of Cape Town City.

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