Lucas Thwala: I will be back on the field

2013-10-20 14:00

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Former Orlando Pirates defender Lucas Thwala is a mirror image of the story of South African football.

Over the years, Thwala’s stop-start career as a result of injuries has overshadowed his potential.

But the erstwhile Bafana Bafana fullback is adamant that he will bounce back from his latest setback – a broken ankle that has confined him to the sidelines.

The resulting inaction, coupled with doubts over his return to full fitness, have cost him his future at SuperSport United.

“I’m in a familiar situation that has dogged me throughout my career but I’ll make a comeback,” said Thwala, who turned 32 yesterday.

He is currently a free agent and hasn’t kicked a ball since he injured himself during United’s reserve league game against Mamelodi Sundowns in February.

“I broke my left ankle, which was also left with damaged muscles and cartilage. Everything is well in place now and I am undergoing rehabilitation. I am targeting January as my comeback date but I won’t rush until it heals completely.”

Thwala’s last club coach, Gavin Hunt, said it will be difficult for the defender to return.

“It’s a sad chapter for a man who did a good job for us in a short space of time,” said Hunt, who now coaches Bidvest Wits.

“He is good in the air, good on the foot and he can score from set pieces. It’s sad that clubs discard players this way when they are injured. It’s going to be difficult for him to come back.”

Former Bafana defender David Nyathi, who played in the same position as Thwala for Dangerous Darkies and Pirates, has encouraged his homeboy from Nelspruit, Mpumalanga: “Never underestimate the human spirit. He has the resilience and the will to continue playing. At his age, he is a matured and an experienced leader who can guide the youngsters.

“At his age, I can easily compare him to a player like Paolo Maldini (the retired Italy and AC Milan defender) for his discipline and courage.”

Thwala has hardly enjoyed a free-flowing campaign since making his debut in the professional ranks with Pirates in 2004.

In 2010, he overcame knee and ankle injuries to be included in the Bafana squad for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

This after a calf injury forced him out of the 2009 Confederations Cup.

All these came on the back of a remarkable season when he was crowned the 2008/09 Absa Premiership Player of the Year.

He also scooped the Pirates Players’ Player of the Year and the Top Goal Scorer awards.

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