What peo­ple don’t know about Many­athela

Soccer Laduma - - Make Your Point -

Vuyani Joni: Ed­die, you’ve played in the same Or­lando Pi­rates team with the late Les­ley Many­athela. Why do you think he de­serves to be in the team’s Hall of Fame?

Edel­bert Dinha: I think Les­ley was a com­pletely dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter to all the other play­ers from South Africa. He was unique. He didn’t get his nick­name (Slow Poi­son) for noth­ing. He was your 18-area type of a striker although he spent most of his time on the edge of the box. He was deadly and it is a pity that his life was taken away just when he was re­ally en­joy­ing his foot­ball. I have not seen any­one fill­ing the void left by Les­ley and that just goes to show the man’s qual­ity and the dif­fer­ence he made at Pi­rates. The late Den­nis Lota is one for­mer Bucs striker I can think of who was sim­i­lar to Les­ley. Slow Poi­son was some­thing else, man, and age was still on his side. He could have be­come the best striker in the coun­try and play­ing abroad for sure. He was a great striker with an eye for goals. He was a kind of player that would keep so quiet and the only time you see him is when he strikes the ball into the back of the net. He would wait for the right time, mo­ment and then pounce. Com­pared to the team’s for­mer strik­ers, I don’t think it would be just not to have Les­ley’s name amongst the best ever play­ers to wear the Bucs jer­sey. Pi­rates have not had a striker of Les­ley’s cal­i­bre, which makes his un­timely death even worse. That’s why his legacy has to be kept alive.

VJ: What kind of a team­mate was he?

ED: What peo­ple don’t know about Slow Poi­son is that he was very talk­a­tive, although he seemed to be this quiet guy. He was both funny and crazy, crack­ing jokes with ev­ery­one. He was just a happy guy who al­ways wanted to see ev­ery­one happy. If he saw that one of the play­ers wasn’t look­ing right, he would take it upon him­self to find out what’s go­ing on and do ev­ery­thing he could to cheer his team­mate up. He knew how to lift the guys’ spir­its and played a ma­jor role in main­tain­ing a good morale in the team. Hav­ing said that, Les­ley had some­thing like a split per­son­al­ity.

VJ: What do you mean? ED: At train­ing, he was this loud and en­er­getic guy, push­ing ev­ery­one to give their best. Dur­ing the game, he was a com­pletely dif­fer­ent per­son. He wouldn’t talk at all, but we all knew what he ex­pected from us. He was more about mak­ing his ac­tions speak for him dur­ing the game, while he stayed vo­cal at train­ing. In other words, he did the same thing of mo­ti­vat­ing his team­mates dif­fer­ently at train­ing and dur­ing the game. He would tell us that the likes of Tso (Bene­dict Vi­lakazi) will do the run­ning and elim­i­nat­ing the op­po­si­tion, but they must just give him the ball to score. That was his only fo­cus and I think that is what sep­a­rated him from the rest. With Slow Poi­son, we knew we al­ways stood a good chance of get­ting goals. He would also take pride in scor­ing and made sure that ev­ery­one knew it was his re­spon­si­bil­ity. He would tell the goal­keeper, de­fend­ers and mid­field­ers to do their job and not worry about scor­ing be­cause he would have it cov­ered. That’s how con­fi­dent he was and he made things easy for us in the mid­field be­cause he hardly lost pos­ses­sion. He didn’t need many chances to score. He was al­ways calm, hum­ble, but very dan­ger­ous on the field.

VJ: Right. ED: When­ever we went home - let’s say it is the Christ­mas break or end of the sea­son - we would drive to­gether. He would ask me, “Muko­mana (Loosely trans­lated ‘My boy’), are we cross­ing the border?” and that’s be­cause he was from Musina and I’m from Zim­babwe. He al­ways joked about his home­town be­ing out of South Africa. We would drive to­gether in our sep­a­rate cars un­til our roads sep­a­rated – that’s when we’d have a brief chat be­fore con­tin­u­ing with our trav­els. We al­ways had that brother­hood con­nec­tion and af­ter he passed on, it took me a long time to get used to driv­ing home alone be­cause we al­ways en­joyed do­ing it to­gether.

VJ: What did play­ing for Bucs mean to him?

ED: It was some­thing he never took for granted, which is why he was al­ways fo­cussed on his job. He al­ways told ev­ery­one that he was play­ing for one of the big­gest teams in the con­ti­nent and that he was look­ing to go and play in Europe. That’s why he al­ways gave his all.

VJ: Be­fore we let you go, any mes­sage to the sup­port­ers whose votes will count a lot?

ED: Guys, we all know what Les­ley has done for Pi­rates and those who didn’t watch him play, surely you’ve heard about the man. Let’s please vote for my brother be­cause he de­serves a place in the club’s Hall of Fame. VJ: Ed­die, thanks so much, bro. ED: You’re wel­come, buddy.

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