Oldies are still golden

2013-05-12 14:00

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In a season where the new generation failed to prove its mettle, oldies led by example with their never-say-die attitude and showed that they were still worth their salt, writes Timothy Molobi.

Platinum Stars coach Cavin Johnson calls them his “12th player” while Pirates coach Roger de Sa says they are the mainstay of the team.

Few people would have predicted that the goldenoldies would play a crucial part in their teams’ survival in the Absa Premiership this season.

Many expected them to be overshadowed by the younger and more energetic generation.

But a quiet season by the young ones saw many of the same old faces rise to the occasion with aplomb.

Unlike their younger counterparts, veterans go about their business with no expectations of being featured in every game.

And they usually come cheap, considering they also lend a hand in tutoring the younger players.

These players have lived up to the axiom “you can’t buy experience”.

But the downside of experience is that age increases the challenge of maintaining the superphysical condition needed to play at the highest level.

Lucky Lekgwathi, Sibusiso Zuma, Delron Buckley, Siyabonga Nomvethe and Benson Mhlongo have all stood out at their respective clubs this season.

Johnson said he was blessed to have Mhlongo and Elias Ngwepe as they kept the team together. He said with the team not having too many supporters, the older team-mates played that role.

“They have been unbelievable and I’m glad to have them,” said Johnson.

De Sa said he was blessed to have Lekgwathi, who leads the team by example.

“He is a true professional and has been outstanding for us this season. You can’t question his commitment and every team needs a player like him,” said De Sa.

Lekgwathi said the secret behind his long career was living a clean life. “It’s all about lifestyle. I don’t drink and smoke, and I always make sure I get enough rest.

“I still feel fit to go for another two seasons,” said the Bucs skipper.

Buckley came back after 18 years of campaigning overseas. And he has picked up from where he left off, putting his international experience to good effect at Maritzburg United.

Only injuries prevented Nomvethe from replicating last season’s performance that saw him win the PSL Player of the Season, the Players’ Player of the Season and the Golden Boot awards.

He played in all 30 games last season but fewer this time because of injuries, only to come back with a bang after his recovery, scoring five goals.

Not a lot has been said about Bidvest Wits’ left back James Mayinga, who has been outstanding.

Regarded as a surplus at SuperSport, Dipsy Selolwane’s move to neighbours University of Pretoria has yielded positive results and he has made 19 appearances.

But not all oldies have played their part the right way.

One of them is Ajax Cape Town goalkeeper Sander Westerveld. The Dutch goalkeeper has put up an appalling display and is partly the reason why the club is lying at the wrong end of the log.

Veteran goalkeeper Andre Arendse became the latest oldie on the list as he made a cameo appearance for Wits at 45, after injuries eliminated four goalkeepers at the club.

Best known oldies

»?Sir Stanley Matthews: He kept fit enough to play top-flight football until he was 50, the oldest player ever to play in England’s top football division and to represent his country.

He played his final competitive game in 1985, at the age of 70, in Brazil, where he damaged his cartilage.

»?Peter Shilton: Played more than 1?000 games and retired after 1?005 league games at the age of 47.

»?Roger Milla: The Cameroonian holds the record for being the oldest goal scorer at a World Cup after scoring four goals in the 1990 World Cup. He appeared at the 1994 World Cup at the age of 42.

»?Pat Jennings: Jennings played his final international game at the 1986 World Cup, on his 41st birthday, making him at the time the World Cup’s oldest ever participant.

»?Dino Zoff: The former goalkeeper is the oldest winner of the World Cup, which he earned as captain of the Italian team in the 1982 tournament in Spain, aged 40.

»?Teddy Sheringham: At 40, he became the oldest player to feature in a Premier League match during the 2006/07 season.

»?Gordon Strachan: The ginger wizard became the first Premiership player to play into his 40s during his spell as player-manager of Coventry.

»?Gary Speed: He became the only player other than fellow countryman Ryan Giggs to score in every Premier League season until he retired in 2007/08. A final stint with Sheffield United meant Speed retired at the age of 40.

»?Filippo Inzaghi: At 37, he became the oldest scorer in the history of the Champions League when he netted twice for AC Milan against Real Madrid.

»?Ryan Giggs: The Manchester United legend turns 40 in November and will play on next season after agreeing to a contract extension. – Wikipedia, Footballfancast

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