Throwback Thursday: Sandile Gumede

Gumede headed home a long throw-in by Nigerian defender Pere Ariweriyai to make it 1-1 in added time at Absa Stadium (then called Growth Point Stadium).

Usuthu, who were then coached by SAFA technical director Neil Tovey, went on to win on penalties to eliminate Hristo Stoichkov's side in Durban, but they lost the final 3-0 to Bidvest Wits at FNB Stadium.

"It was my first season at AmaZulu because I had just joined them from Nathi Lions," Gumede recounts to

"I came in as sub in that game and it was only five minutes before the game ended. I just felt I can do something and the coach at that time Neil Tovey told me if we can get one goal, we'll be through.

"He knew that if I stay in the box I used to score at any time. He just threw me in and he said I should stay in the box and maybe we can get one goal, because the time in the game was almost up. The game ended 1-1 and then we beat them on the penalty shoot-outs.

"Going to the final, it was a nice feeling because we were the first players to open the new FNB Stadium. But I was disappointed because I didn't start. I came in as sub when the game was almost up.

"But it was a good feeling that I scored against a big team because usually when you play against the big teams the team tends to panic. And us as players it rubs off, so I was very ecstatic."

Tovey was sacked by Usuthu at the end of that season and Gumede fell out of favour when current Downs assistant coach Manqoba Mngqithi took charge of the side.

Gumede then attacted interest from Bloemfontein Celtic but a move failed to materialise - much to his dismay.

"I was supposed to join Celtic in January in the following season. They [AmaZulu] said they don't want to sell me, that is what I heard at the end from my agent," Gumede explains.

"It was a life-changing moment in not joining Celtic and I felt the pain of it because I knew I'd be leaving for another PSL team.

"They did it in their own way. Celtic actually were buying me outright, not asking for a loan. Coach Clinton Larsen told me that AmaZulu said I have an injury, as of now I'm injured and I'm not in the camp. It was a lie because I was in camp.

"Larsen phoned me and it shocked me when he said, 'AmaZulu are saying 'you are injured'. I said, 'why do they say I'm injured when I'm in the camp, preparing in January for the second half of the season?' That kind of shocked me why they blocked the move to join Celtic and then they loaned me to Thanda Royal Zulu. It is a question I asked myself, why did they do that? How can you loan someone who is injured? It was very strange and I felt they didn't want me to prosper.

"I also forced the move to go to Thanda because I knew this impacted badly on my game and I won't perform the way I want to at AmaZulu. Even Clinton was surprised when he saw me playing for Thanda. He went on and said AmaZulu are saying I'm injured and I'll be out for six months, I won't be doing anything.

"That taught me sometimes other people have their own way of destroying you as a player. If they don't want you to progress they let you down."

After that disheartening experience, Gumede, 35, who was born in Empangeni, north of KwaZulu-Natal, went on to play for Blackburn Rovers and retired in 2015. He's one of many KZN players that are playing legends games, having recently participated in the annual Siyabonga Sangweni Youth Festival in Dondotha.

"I decided to retire from football in 2015. I felt I had enough and it is time for me to hang up my boots," he says.

"At that time I was 33. If you look at that age in terms of world football it is an early time to retire but I felt it was enough for me."

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