As is the nature for the South African football community, the name Nazeer Allie might not ring familiar to many. This is because for the last thirteen years he has plied his trade in South Africa, his name has never been linked with any of the big three.
Born on May, 23rd of 1985 in Cape Town, Nazeer Allie is a South African football defender for Premier Soccer League club Bidvest Wits. At the ripe age of 33, he currently plays as a defender, who first cut his teeth with Ajax Cape Town’s academy in 2000 and worked his way from the Under 15’s to the first team (promoted to senior team in 2005 and played until he transferred in 2015).
The reason I bring his name up is that, Nazeer Allie is a typical example of players who have served the game of football diligently for years. And for years, as brilliant as he is, it just never looked like he was ever going to taste the glory of epoch making success. For the longest time he went about is business, with nobody paying him any mind; and he yet he was making everybody around him look much better than they were. If you think about it; over the years Ajax Cape Town made millions selling every player he partnered with, because he made them look that good. From Dominic Issacs, to Thulani Hlatshwayo, to Clayton Daniels, to Thato Mokeke.
He came extremely close to winning the title twice. First with the Craig Rosslee 2007/2008 team which lost the tittle to SuperSport United by two points. And there after the 2010/2011 Foppe de Haan team which agonizingly dropped the ball in the last match of the season, in a 4-1 Peter Mokaba blood bath at the hands of Kaizer Chiefs. Only to lose the tittle to Orlando Pirates by a goal difference of two goals.
So when he transferred to Bidvest Wits, it was clear to me that Allie had relinquished his title aspirations. When a man joins a club that has not won the title that long, you cannot really say that he still has dreams of winning the title; and this is really not a swipe to Liverpool fans about Oxlade-Chamberlain.
But then on that fateful night, as the final whistle went. News of the late equaliser in Atteridgeville befell the packed coliseum on Yale Road in a cold winter’s night. Minutes felt an eternity, as tension took a hold of their focus like static before a record begins. Then finally; news of the two all final score at the Lucas Moripe Stadium pierced through the wires confirming that BIDVEST WITS were the 2016/2017 Absa Premier Soccer League Champions.
As historic as that moment may have been for South African football, when the old lady finally clinched converted honors for the first time, four years shy of a century. A greater part of my own celebration was largely with regard to football finally choosing to thank a faithful servant. Nazeer Allie in particular, was crowned a Absa Premier Soccer League Champion.
I should mention though that winning the league with Bidvest Wits also marked Nazeer Allie’s inclusion into an exclusive club of players who actually managed to win a complete set of four medals in the PSL from all competitions. This club includes names like Suprice Moriri, Franklin Cale, Sphiwe Tshabalala, Teko Modise, Daine Klate, Yeye Letsholonyane, Itumeleng Khune to mention but a few. Like I said, he is a brilliant player. But not many people know about him. Because the man plays football, does his best to be the best. But no one pays him any mind.
When the late, great CC Manyapelo explained – sethlogo sa bolo (translated: football is cruel). These were not words expressed in vain. For football really is cruel. There are many players like Nazeer Allie in the PSL. And sadly some of them finish their careers without a single medal. But these people go on to play for ten years and more, retire and unless they go on to coach no one remembers them. Because they are not flashy, and they do not look for attention.
Some of us might consider this a painful existence, but I would argue that these are probably the happiest people on the face of the earth. They are just grateful to wake in the morning and be able to play. People like Moruti Elias Ngoepe, Stanly Kgatla, Peter Petersen – the list is long.
But one thing I will say is that on Saturday night when it was confirmed that Free State Stars, Free State Stars, Free State Stars were crowned the 2018 Nedbank Cup Champions – that list was cut short by two names.
It’s not that it is an historic event that had me excited. Not even the fact that Patrick Phungwayo and Roy Mahamutsa are collecting their third Nedbank Cup gold medals of their careers. Or that the chairman of the club, Mike Mokoena decided to announce his retirement live on TV after his charges managed to remind him what it is like to win something for the first time in twenty four years.
But it is the thought that after nine years at Free State Stars, having lived through the stresses of the club facing the possibility of getting sold. Through the gut wrenching fight to avoid relegation. The fact that Paulus Masehe, the 34 year old stalwart of Bethlehem now has a gold medal around his neck – just had me moved.
The idea that Thela Ngobeni, a man who like Brilliant Khuzwayo was a victim of Itu Khune’s talent at Kaizer Chiefs. A man who moved to Mamelodi Sundowns to be relegated to the MDC team, only to finish second at the hands of a sudden death penalty shootout against AmaTuks. A man who was once described by Barnes Bapela as “the unluckiest man on the history of the game.” Not only played in a cup final but has a gold medal around his neck.
As the lights shone upon Cape Town Stadium, football had finally rewarded two faithful servants for their hard work and dedication, for their commitment to their craft; and for their long years of service to the game all in one night. At this majestic stadium which garnishes the edge of a continent like a paragon on princes, football was gracious!
I am so happy for those two.
As I wrap up, spare a thought for Vuyo Mere, Solomon Mathe and Robert Ngambi, who in the afternoons of their careers, are facing play-offs to avoid relegation.
Just a thought
The tempest prognosticator
Themba A Dikgale