Bhele and Teko: The last of a generation

2019-05-14 12:00

The final whistle in the match between Bloemfontein Celtic and AmaZulu at Sisa Dukashe Stadium, as well as the Black Leopards-Cape Town City encounter played at Thohoyandou Stadium, brought the curtain down on two illustrious local soccer careers.

The matches were the swansong for Siyabonga “Bhele” Nomvethe and Teko “The General” Modise, respectively.

Siyabonga Nomvethe:

Born Siyabonga Eugene Nomvethe on December 2 1977 and baptised Bhele by the football-loving fraternity, Nomvethe had humble beginnings playing for local sides Sabatha FC and Durban Cosmos before moving to Claremont Blizzards.

He went on to represent South Africa at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, the 2002 and the 2010 World Cups in Korea/Japan and South Africa.

Read: Why is Celtic on its knees?

Nomvethe made people sit up and notice right from his first season as a professional when he scored a brace against Kaizer Chiefs on his debut.

He was part of that golden Under-23 team that beat Brazil in their opening 2000 Olympic Games match in Sydney, Australia, where his team-mates included Steve Lekoelea, Patrick Mbuthu, Benni McCarthy, Quinton Fortune, Daniel Matsau and Delron Buckley.

Siyabonga Nomvethe of AmaZulu bowed out on Saturday. Picture: Samuel Shivambu / BackpagePix

After making a name for himself at Chiefs, he was roped into Bafana Bafana, making his debut against Trinidad and Tobago on May 6 1999 for the national team.

He scored the game’s only goal against Slovenia at the 2002 World Cup, represented Bafana Bafana at the 2005 Gold Cup and the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations.

A well-travelled player, he enjoyed many successes with Chiefs and Pirates, and stints in the Italian Serie A with Udinese Calcio, which later loaned him to smaller Italian Serie B clubs Salernitana Calcio and Empoli FC between January 2004 and June 2005.

The player was subsequently loaned out for six months to Djurgårdens IF in Sweden before permanently leaving Udinese in December 2005 and moving back to Pirates.

In July 2006, he joined Aalborg Boldspilklub (AaB) in the Danish Superliga, where he spent three years, won the Danish Superliga 2007/08 championship and scored a goal in the penalty shoot-out as AaB was eliminated by Manchester City in the Uefa Cup 2008/09 round of 16.

His stay with Moroka Swallows from 2009 to 2016 saw a rejuvenated, sprightly 34-year-old Bhele under the tutelage of Gordon Igesund win the PSL footballer of the year, Absa player of the season, players’ player of the season and Lesley Manyathela Golden Boot with 20 goals at the 2011/12 PSL awards, which earned him a total of R600 000.

He is the PSL’s current top scorer with 123 goals. He made 70 appearances and scored 28 goals for AmaZulu before Saturday's game since joining them in 2016.

Nomvethe was initially set to retire in December, but the club extended his contract until Saturday.

Teko Modise:

Born in Meadowlands, Soweto, on December 22 1982, Teko Tsholofelo Modise is regarded as one of the greatest PSL players of his generation.

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 04: Siyabonga Nomvethe
Teko Modise of Cape Town City during the Absa Premiership match between AmaZulu on February 9 in Durban. Picture: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

It was his skills as a midfield marshal with a sharp eye for a killer pass that saw “The Ghost”, as Pirates supporters are known, baptise him “The General”.

Life has not always been a bed of roses for the genius, as captured in his biography, The Curse of Teko Modise.

He is one of those individuals who managed to drag himself out of abject poverty by his boot straps – maybe literally in his case – to reach the height of popularity.

At the prime of his career, playing for Mamelodi Sundowns, he won back-to-back league titles, a CAF Champions League and a CAF Super Cup title, among others.

With 66 appearances for Bafana Bafana, for whom he scored 10 times, playing overseas must be the only box that he did not tick in his successful football career.

Even when he played in the NFD, then known as the Mvela League, in 2005/06, he emerged with the Mvela Golden League player of the season award.

During his stay at Pirates – 2007 to 2011, when he made 93 appearances and scored 12 goals – he helped the club to the two Telkom Charity Cup trophies in 2008 and 2009, as well as to the MTN8 Cup in 2010.

While not a prolific goal scorer, Modise helped a number of team-mates to many a goal with his defence-splitting passes. Benni McCarthy, who had an eye for goal as a player, swooped in and signed him for City when he chose not to renew his contract after six years with Sundowns in 2017.

Modise made 20 appearances and scored once for The Citizens before Saturday's final hurrah. – Additional information: Wikipedia

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December 8 2019