“When they broke the news that I had a (left) knee problem, I thought that was the end of my dream,” Siphiwe ‘Shabba’ Tshabalala reminiscences of the early days at Kaizer Chiefs.
The midfielder made the big move to Kaizer Chiefs from Free State Stars on this day a decade ago (10 January 2007).
“I signed the contract and went for medical tests,” Tshabalala continues. “It was then when I thought things could have gone pear shape. I was convinced that the news of the knee problem would mean that Chiefs was going to terminate the contract.”
“I took the news bravely though,” reveals an emotional Shabba. “I was happily surprised to receive the support from Kaizer Chiefs. Football Manager Bobby Motaung encouraged me to focus on the recovery, which I did.”
It wasn’t to be. Shabba would go on and enjoy ten glorious years as a Glamour Boy. He played 88 times for Bafana Bafana with his 2010 World Cup exploits earning him international acclaim.
Tshabalala scored the opening goal at the 2010 World Cup, which was hosted in South Africa. His goal was nominated for the Fifa Puskás Award.
The Soweto-born midfielder had to wait on the sidelines for six months before making his debut for Amakhosi against Bidvest Wits on 31 August 2007.
“I made my debut against Wits under the mentorship of coach Muhsin Ertugral,” recalls Shabba. Remarkably, under Muhsin I missed only one game in two seasons and that was because of suspension.”
In his decade at Chiefs, Tshabalala has collected several gold medals, including two Absa Premiership titles, two MTN8, three Telkom Knockout and one Nedbank Cup.
He was selected as the Safa Footballer of the Year in 2010.
The midfielder played in 315 (official) games for Amakhosi, which includes league, cup and African cup games. He started in 286, coming on in a further 29 matches, scoring 47 goals in total.
“I wish to thank the Almighty for the opportunity to wear Kaizer Chiefs colours for such a long time,” says Shabba. “Mostly, I would like to thank my parents. I wish to thank the Chairman, Mr Motaung, for his leadership and for affording me this opportunity. I wish to thank the entire management and staff for their support.”
Shabba also pays tribute to his teammates: “It will be a mistake if I don’t thank the past and current teammates for their collegiality and support through this period. A special word of gratitude goes to Bobby Motaung for his patience during my injury. I also want to extend words of gratitude to all the coaches during this time, with special words of appreciation to Muhsin Ertugral for giving me my debut.”
“Of course, I cannot forget the supporters,” Tshabalala concludes. “The Amakhosi supporters and South Africans have shown me love and I wish to make them all aware that their support has meant everything to me. Thank you.”