'We need Fadlus and Mokwenas'

Middendorp has served as a mentor of sorts to Davids, who has guided Maritzburg to a first Nedbank final - at the expense of Mamelodi Sundowns - and a current position of third in the league in his first full season as a head coach.

Davids, 36, played under Middendorp and worked as an assistant to the German at Bloemfontein Celtic and Chippa United prior to returning to the Team of Choice in the second half of 2015/16.

After Middendorp and then Roger de Sa departed United last season, Davids completed 2016/17 as interim coach before being appointed on a full-time basis at the beginning of the campaign.

Middendorp, who is a technical director at Bangkok City, says Davids was initially reluctant to accept his playing career was over due to injury.

“Yes, of course. In January 2012 I said it very clearly to him that 'you have to stop playing. You are limping, you are putting one cortisone injection in after the other and your leg doesn’t work anymore',” Middendorp tells KickOff.com from Thailand.

“In the first step, just to give you a little bit of the story, it was not easy for him to stop. In the first step he refused a little bit. But anyway because I saw the potential and I told him, ‘okay, don’t think about coaching in the next five years. Listen, follow me, pick up as much as possible and if you want to be the head coach, you can start thinking about it after five years’.

“Mainly he did it. He didn’t start thinking about it before January 2017. The potential was there from the beginning.”

Middendorp believes Davids and youthful Pirates assistant coach Mokwena are showing their expertise is needed in the topflight. Mokwena served under Mamelodi Sundowns boss Pitso Mosimane prior to linking up with Pirates in the off-season to aid former Uganda coach Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic.

“I don’t think he [Davids] needs advice anymore. These are the type of coaches you need these days; the Davids, Rhulani Mokwenas, who is now still in the position at Orlando Pirates,” Middendorp says.

“They’re able, they’re capable, listening, picking it up from serious coaches like Micho and like myself. If you want to be a good coach use your time. Use your time where you can pick up the advice, where you can pick up experience in different areas. It doesn’t matter, you can be in the relegation area, you can be in the international business, cup competition, or in the league championship.

“I think Fadlu was capable, was able to see it and he used it very well.

“At a certain time, at a certain point, you must be yourself. It was five years of doing it at different clubs; not only Maritzburg United. The experience at Chippa, the experience at Bloemfontein Celtic, experience back at Maritzburg in really, really tough situations. He had the balls to go through with it.”

Davids, who holds a UEFA B License, will study towards a coveted UEFA Pro License in the off-season.

Maritzburg will battle Free State Stars for Nedbank Cup honours at Cape Town Stadium on May 19.