All they did in their spare time was jog. They wanted to be successful as professional footballers and their hard work certainly paid off. Both represented Bafana Bafana and had opportunities to play in Europe, after donning the jerseys of Soweto giants Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.
As Nomvethe prepares to celebrate his 40th birthday tomorrow, the retired Zuma shares the memories he has with the evergreen striker.
KickOff.com: What can you remember doing in your early days at African Wanderers with 'Bhele'?
SZ: It’s crazy. When we had spare time, we used to meet because we came from different areas. Bhele KwaMashu, I was from Hammersdale, [Tholumuzi] Blose was in Umlazi. We would meet and just go jog by the beach and then after we have lunch. We were all about training. Even now I have retired and I go training. We were not into fancy stuff. We just enjoyed the sport and the good thing is that we wanted to learn. It made us so happy that we took African Wanderers to the PSL and we showed South Africa what we can do. We got opportunities from that. It’s not about money, it’s about hard work.
KO: What type of person is he?
SZ: Bhele is a happy person. He’s not the kind of player that’s going to chill with only the experienced guys. He is the type of player who chills with everyone. He will chill with the young guys. In the national team he was always making the younger players feel welcom. Even when he visits me in my townships, he will chill with some of the kids.
KO: What makes him special?
SZ: People thought he was fast, but I was faster than him. What makes him who he is is the way he stops and then goes again on the pitch. He was not one of the top dribblers like Jabu or the other guys, but he would get past players because of his speed and his ability to change direction. No one can do it like Bhele. Even now when we talk about our games from the past.
KO: Why did he make it this far?
SZ: It was the way we were raised, especially in terms of training. Someone told us long ago you need to jog every day because it’s like recharging our batteries. That’s what we did almost every day. It helps with performance. He has been doing that for years. These days when I call him at home his wife will tell me he has gone jogging. He takes care of himself. I am really happy that he has reached this age and I wish him all the best. He must not listen to people who say he is old. He must go on until he feels it’s his time to retire. Age is just a number. He is still scoring.