Stellenbosch defender Asavela Mbekile says he never imagined he would ever lift the Caf Champions League trophy in his career, after tasting success with Mamelodi Sundowns in 2016.
The former Masandawana utility player looked back at his career and explained that playing for the Brazilians was a distant dream for him, and that he would always be grateful for his success at Chloorkop.
Having played for Moroka Swallows, Chippa United, and Orlando Pirates, ‘Shoes’ also shared advice to youngsters, saying injuries are part of the game and talent alone doesn't determine a successful career.
“I have never imagined some of the things that have happened in my career. I knew I wanted to play football but I didn’t think I will ever win the Caf Champions League,” Mbekile told Umhlobo Wenene FM.
“I never imagined that I will ever play for Mamelodi Sundowns. When I grew up, Sundowns was like something very far from me and I never thought it was something I could do – I am grateful to God because I ended up playing for Sundowns.
“Injuries are part of the game, it can happen anytime and injuries need someone that lives a clean life, someone that is mentally strong.
“There’s a lot that happens in football that can hamper your success besides talent, some people think you can play football because of talent.”
As one of the key players for Stellies under coach Steve Barker, the Eastern Cape-born campaigner has declared their readiness for the 2019/20 Premier Soccer League (PSL) restart, saying they need three wins out of their six remaining games to save their top-flight status.
“I think if we win three games we can be able to finish in a decent spot on the log table. Our plan is to ensure we do not concede so many goals but we are working hard on scoring goals,” he added.
“If you look at it, we are winning our games with 1-0 or 2-1 margins and we need to be stable at the back and convert our chances up front.
“However, we have managed to get more time to work on these things. We are still training in Cape Town [Western Cape], for now, I think we will go to Gauteng on the 11th because our first game is on the 15th if I’m not mistaken.
“I think we will go there three days before the restart of the league. I am fit, we are all ready to play and finish the season.”
After winning two PSL titles, a Telkom Knockout Cup trophy as well as the continental title with coach Pitso Mosimane’s troops, the 33-year-old switched to the Buccaneers in 2018 but struggled for game time under various coaches at Pirates.
He was eventually released in January this year but was quickly snapped up by Steve Barker a month later, where he has featured in six matches across all competitions so far.
Meanwhile, the Cape Winelands-based club are 11 on the log with 27 points from 24 matches and they are scheduled to face Golden Arrows at Tuks Stadium in two weeks' time.