How Mduduzi Shabalala ended up at Kaizer Chiefs - Sifiso Nxumalo

How Mduduzi Shabalala ended up at Kaizer Chiefs - Sifiso Nxumalo

Kaizer Chiefs rising star Mduduzi Shabalala is making waves in the Premier Soccer League and his former youth coach Sifiso Nxumalo has detailed how the teenager reached his current status.

Youth and amateur football coaches in South Africa rarely get the recognition they deserve for producing top talent, but Nxumalo is the proud coach from Soweto behind the 19-year-old’s stunning rise.

When SABC Sport spoke to Shabalala earlier this week in the build-up to his Soweto Derby debut, the South Africa U20 national team captain was full of praise for the role Nxumalo played in his development.

"To be honest, Coach Sifiso played a big role in my life. He's the one who took me to Kaizer Cheifs, and actually, we first started trialing at Orlando Pirates but it didn't work out," said Shabalala.

"I told him, 'It's easy there at Orlando Pirates, I want to go to Kaizer Chiefs.' At Kaizer Chiefs, they made it difficult for me, I trialed for about 3-4 months and I told him, 'That's what I want in football – I want a challenge.'

"It happened that I got the challenge and I was promoted to the reserve team [after] I only played three games in the GDL [Gauteng Development League] with the under-17s.

"I went to the under-17 national team, I won the player of the tournament and I got myself a trip to Spain, and after that, I came back and played for the [Chiefs] reserve team.

"I only spent one season with them – in fact, I played about 13 or 14 games, and after that, I got promoted [to the first team]."

At just 26 years old, Nxumalo, a former Pirates youth player who started working with Shabalala years ago at the Lenasia Football Academy, insists the 19-year-old has done equally as much for him in his early coaching career.

"It's an unbelievable feeling, especially because as much as I was there for him then, I'm still here for him now and we talk about how he's going through different emotions and all of that," responded Nxumalo.

"Even his mother was telling me today, 'Hey Coach, he's so focussed,' and all of that. So, it's an unbelievable experience, it's not an experience I thought I would have now in my career – I knew it would happen but not now, not in my early years in coaching.

"He always says to me, 'Coach, you've done so much for me,' but I always tell him, 'You've done so much for me as well,' because in some places I don't even have to use my surname – I just come in, and people know Coach Sifiso [of] Mduduzi – because of what he has done.

"Sometimes players also contribute to our development as coaches, so it's an unbelievable feeling and I'm truly, truly excited to see him do his thing."