After impressing in a Nedbank Cup game against NFD outfit Santos last season, Cele caught the eye of Maritzburg United coach Steve Komphela.
He signed with Maritzburg at the start of the 2014/15 PSL season, has played all 16 League games for them since, and on Thursday was the surprise inclusion in coach Shakes Mashaba’s provisional 34 man squad that will do battle at next year’s Afcon in Equatorial Guinea.
“I know that I am old; I used to tell my teammates that at Gamalakhe all the time,” Cele says. “But if you love something then you keep trying. I always kept the faith.”
The 25-year-old winger has been instrumental in Maritzburg’s success so far this season with his pace, work-rate, strength and skill all contributing towards what has been the most successful season of his career.
“Even my mom told me that I was too old now and that I should give up on football,” adds Cele. “I spoke to her on the phone [on Thursday] and she couldn’t talk because she was crying.”
There is a good chance that Cele won’t go to Afcon, given that the squad will be trimmed down to 23 after a five-day training camp in Johannesburg beginning on December 26. But this is an achievement in itself and, given the year he has had, there is no reason for Cele to give up now.
“I have been playing well and this has been a very good season for me,” he says. “But now I need to keep working hard so that I can impress coach [Shakes] Mashaba.”