Throwback Thursday: Thembile Kanono


Kanono, a creative midfielder in his day, is involved in an initiative with the Department of Social Development in Kimberley, working as a life coach to give hope to street kids.

“I am currently involved in a project with social development and a university here in Kimberley. We are working with street kids and we are trying to coach and help them live a proper life,” says Kanono.

“It’s a great experience but it’s totally different from coaching normal football. You must remember street kids are vulnerable. Their behaviour and mentality is not the same as that of a normal person.

“It’s enjoyable. Once you get them onto the field of play and play with them they become more interested, especially knowing they are playing with someone that once played professional football.

“At least I am surviving. I didn’t live life in the fast lane. I lived a normal life and I managed to save the little I made in football and bought a house,” he added.

Kanono remains indebted to the late Styles Phumo after the coach gave him his first professional contract with Celtic in 2000.

He travelled 64 kilometres from Thaba Nchu to Bloemfontein for the open trials with Celtic with the help of his uncle who gave him money for transport.

“I read about the trials in one of the local newspapers,” says Kanono.

“I came on as substitute in a game and after two to three minutes, Styles stopped the game and called me aside. I think I touched the ball just three times. This how I signed for Celtic.”

After establishing himself in the PSL, Kanono left Celtic to join Santos in 2003 when he was recruited by Farouk Khan.

He joined Pirates in 2008, hoping to perform well enough to get into Bafana Bafana’s 2010 FIFA World Cup squad.

“Besides the move to Pirates being motivated by the financial aspect, I also looked at it as an opportunity to play for Bafana Bafana, especially because we were hosting the World Cup in 2010.

“My stay at Pirates was okay. I enjoyed the great spirit in the club. I wouldn’t say I failed at the club because I played well in all the games I was given an opportunity to play in. But maybe the coach preferred Teko [Modise] over me.”

He continues: “The reason I left [Pirates] was because I wanted to be selected for the national team. I thought moving to another club to get more game-time would open opportunities of getting recognised by the national team selectors.”

Kanono says his debut for Santos was his most memorable match.

“We beat Moroka Swallows 5-1 at the Athlone Stadium. I scored the first goal after I received a pass from Kamaal Sait. I was named man of the match.

“My worst game at Santos was when I came on as substitute and I was later substituted. Jean–Marc Ithier was the coach. I didn’t understand it because I was having a good game. It was also the time of Pirates being in the media. You know coaches sometimes, maybe he felt my mind was no longer there.”

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