- Al Ahly’s CAF Champions League-winning coach Pitso Mosimane says he left the Sundowns jersey in a better place after leaving in September.
- Mosimane spoke to South African media for the first time since leaving the country to take up one of the top jobs in Africa.
- He compared the emotions of leaving Downs after eight successful years to a kid leaving home for varsity after high school.
Al Ahly’s CAF Champions League-winning coach Pitso Mosimane took a leaf out of an old All Blacks adage when describing how he felt when he left Mamelodi Sundowns after eight successful years.
"The All Blacks say: 'Leave the jersey in a better place'," said Mosimane, speaking to the South African Football Journalists’ Association (Safja).
Mosimane, 56, resigned suddenly from his post at Chloorkop late in September to take up the head coaching job at Africa’s most successful club, Al Ahly in Cairo.
Speaking to South African media for the first time since his shock departure - after which he went on to win the Egyptian Premier League and CAF Champions League in two months - Mosimane said he left with the knowledge that Sundowns would be stronger.
Despite winning the Premier Soccer League (PSL) treble - the Premiership, Telkom Knockout and Nedbank Cup - Sundowns signed 11 new players, including snipers Kermit Erasmus, Peter Shalulile and Gift Motupa.
"I brought Kermit Erasmus at Sundowns," Mosimane said.
"I signed all those players. All of them ... Shalulile, everybody. I made sure I leave the team in a better place.
"The All Blacks say: 'Leave the jersey in a better place'. I would not want anybody to say they had to start again (from scratch).
"Everything you see at Sundowns, I’ve left it. I personally recruited players, brought them to the team because I could see that Peter could add value and so will Kermit.
"I’ve got a history with Kermit dating back to when he was 13, 14 years. I’ve known those boys for a very long time and I knew what was going to happen.
"I was building the team to be stronger."
Mosimane said there were some quizzical looks in his directions when he made the transfer moves that strengthened a team teeming with talent.
But he said, knowing that an offer he couldn’t refuse came in for his services from the Egyptian giants, you couldn’t leave The Brazilians thin on squad depth.
"Why rebuild the team when you’ve won the treble?" he said.
"I said, the one I’m rebuilding is going to be a very strong one and I did that. When I left, I left the jersey in a better place.
"I don’t want anybody to say they don’t have a right back or a striker. There are strikers, hot shots, people who score goals.
"You can see the movie is continuing. Just enjoy the ride."
Speaking about the emotions involved when he left a club with which he won the CAF Champions League in 2016, five Premiership titles and last season’s treble, Mosimane compared it to a child leaving home after high school to go to varsity.
"It’s like school," he said.
"You start at primary, then you go to secondary or high school. You spend five years there and when you leave matric, you can’t go back to school, you’ve got to go to varsity.
"You have to move on. That’s how I felt when I left. When they say now you’ve got to go to varsity, you’re no longer living at home. You have to leave the house.
"It’s like going from Jo’burg to UCT - it’s a different life.
"There’s no better time; you’ve got to leave at that time. You don’t want people saying you left a mess behind and all that.
"All the supporters love me and I have big respect for them. I miss them, I miss the songs, the drums and the banners they used to do.
"But what you get here at Al Ahly is another story. These fans come to training and sing for me. They see you on the street and they sing for you."