Orlando Pirates midfielder Luvuyo Memela has revealed that he did not enjoy his football under Swedish coach Kjell Jonevret.
The experienced winger recalled his early days at Bucs after joining the Soweto giants from then-National First Division (NFD) side Cape Town All Stars in 2015.
“I didn’t play at first, but then Coach Eric [Tinkler] gave me a chance and I showed myself and I pushed. Everybody started noticing: ‘Who is this Memela?’," Memela told Far Post.
“I was getting goals left and right, as much as I was a winger and creating… Then, Eric got fired and another coach, Muhsin [Ertugral], came, and there were changes of coaches.
“[Under] Coach Kjell, I won’t lie to you — it was difficult for me to even say it, but it was a moment where I didn’t care."
Jonevret was appointed a few days after a lethargic Pirates side were embarrassed 6-0 by Mamelodi Sundowns in February 2017 and he was expected to revive the team.
However, the Buccaneers continued to struggle and ultimately, the team finished 11th on the league standings and failed to qualify for the MTN8 for the first time in the PSL era.
“I started forgetting the kind of person that I am. I started doing things — you know, going out… I didn’t even think of training," he continued.
"I would get calls from the guys asking: ‘Hey, where are you? It’s training.’ Then, eventually, [I would realise]: ‘Oh, s**t, training has started.’”
Memela explained that it took an intervention from Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza to get him back on track.
“I remember at some point, I had a meeting with the chairman. The chairman is a top person… He said to me: ‘Boy, I’m disappointed that you’re giving up… What makes you do this? Sometimes, you come to training, and you don’t even say anything — you keep quiet and don’t chat to anyone. That’s not you,” he revealed.
“I said: ‘To be honest, what’s frustrating me is that I’m not playing.’ The chairman said to me: ‘Who are you? What makes you think that you are better than other players and you can play and they don’t deserve to play? I’m not saying you don’t deserve to play, but why do you think you are better than others?’
“Then, I realised that the chairman was right. I was not humble enough to understand the situation… It’s not about you, it’s about the team. From there, I think my mindset changed a lot.”
Jonevret was replaced by Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic in August 2017 and the Serbian coach transformed Bucs into PSL title contenders.
Memela enjoyed his football under Micho, who was temporarily replaced by Rhulani Mokwena, before current Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer took over the reins in December 2019.
“For me, I still say he [Micho] is the humblest guy ever. Even Coach JZ [Josef Zinnbauer] is very humble. Micho is a top, top, top motivator," Memela said.
"He sees things. For me, he is a special coach. It’s a pity that we couldn’t win a trophy or anything while he was around.
“When he came, I don’t know what he saw in me, but he told himself: ‘Let me give this boy a chance.’ He gave me a chance and I played and I was so free because he believed in me," added.
"I could see it in his eyes when he spoke to me while things were difficult.”