Ncikazi's insight on age-defying Bhele

Nomvethe was a pupil when Ncikazi was a teacher at Siphosethu Primary School in KwaZulu-Natal in the early 1990s.

They later became teammates at African Wanderers, but not before Ncikazi came up against the striker when he was on the books of Claremont Blizzards. 

Bhele shone for Abaqulusi alongside the likes of Sibusiso Zuma and Phumlani Mkhize before being snapped up by Kaizer Chiefs in 1998. He went on to play his trade overseas and continues to be a force for AmaZulu at the age of 39, as evidenced by his record-extending 120th PSL goal against Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday.

“Bhele, firstly, I met him when he was playing at school,” Ncikazi recollects to “I was teaching at Siphosethu Primary School and we were playing the Coca-Cola Cup [preliminary stages] at Kings Park Stadium.

“He then went on to play for Claremont Blizzards as a winger. He was my opponent, I was playing for African Wanderers.

“Because I was facing him I told him, ‘Young man, change position and play on another flank’, because I was kicking and he was fast.

“Then next he joined African Wanderers. He started on the bench and I think almost the whole season he was on the bench. His prominence was coming on as a sub. Sibusiso Zuma was the regular.

“When he went to the Premier League he became a regular and I was the bench warmer [says chuckling] and that’s when he started his career. From then nothing has stopped him.”

Ncikazi believes Nomvethe's longevity is down to his healthy lifestyle.

“It’s his lifestyle. For me I use him as an example of how lifestyle can give longevity to your career,” he says.

“He’s not the sort of person who likes flashy stuff. He doesn’t drink alcohol, doesn’t smoke, he’s not a nightclub person. And if you don’t do that you can see what it does for him.

“If you talk to him now you’ll think you are talking to a youngster with all the history, all the goodness... humble as ever. There’s nothing to explain such a guy - top class. I wanted to sign him at Arrows [says laughing].

“Even John Moshoeu was the same... he played up until he was 40. ‘Shoes’ will stay behind after training after everybody has left and stretch.”

He adds: “Bhele, I think he’s just an example in the South African game... that you can play long but it must be upon you on how you sleep, how you behave on and outside the field. Just an example of how a professional behaves.”