The Premier Soccer League’s age-defying all-time top goal scorer with 123 goals, Siyabonga Nomvethe, was delighted that he was honoured while still alive.
Nomvethe was one of three recipients of the chairman’s award at the PSL’s end-of-season awards ceremony at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre on Sunday.
“Bhele” was honoured for his contribution to the game in a stellar career that started at African Wanderers in 1997 and ended with AmaZulu in May this year. In a career that spanned over two decades, Nomvethe played for the country’s traditional big three – Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Moroka Swallows. He also played in Italy and Denmark as well as represented his country in the Olympics and the World Cup.
“I am happy that I received this award while I am still alive, while I am still fresh because I am not an old man,” Nomvethe said. “I am still young. That made me really help. I hope that I serve as a role model to children who want to be the next Siyabonga Nomvethe. I led by example in everything I did. Now is the time for me to continue being a good role model. I like that I left football with a good name, I didn’t tarnish my name or the sport.”
The 41-year-old was a consummate professional throughout his career. Even at 40 he could still keep up with youngsters half his age because he took care of his body. Nomvethe used to jog from his KwaMashu home to training in Durban and then jog back home after training. While he dismissed the idea of taking up running now that he had hung up his boots in the beautiful game, he would however continue to take care of his body.
“There are many diseases, if you don’t exercise you are vulnerable,” Nomvethe said. “Since I come from an environment where I trained a lot, if I relax, I will develop a pot belly. I don’t want that. I have to keep abusing my body with training.”
His fitness is just part of the package that made Bhele a legend. His rise to fame was extraordinary. Nomvethe along with Phumlani Mkhize and Sibusiso Zuma shook up the country’s football landscape at Abaqulisi in one of the deadliest attacking trios in the PSL-era. Nomvethe outlived his former teammates as a professional. But what’s more remarkable is that in a career that spanned over two decades, Nomvethe was hardly in the tabloids. He made news on his own terms, more often than not about his football rather than off the field antics.
“It depends on how you were raised at home,” Nomvethe said. “Since I started playing professional football, I have never been the one to talk or look for attention. I talk with my feet. That’s what has helped me in my career because talking draws unnecessary attention towards you and that will not help you. I had to work extremely hard in everything I did because I didn’t want to have a situation where someone says you got this because I did you a favour in your career. I worked hard and I trained hard. If the team had one training session, I would train twice.”
Nomvethe is keeping his cards close to his chest regarding what he’ll do next. The only thing he revealed was that he would remain in football.