NJABULO NGIDI
2 minute read
19 Jul 2014
1:00 pm

‘It’s nice to be a wanted man’ – Thulani Hlatshwayo

NJABULO NGIDI

Thulani Hlatshwayo vividly remembers the days after he lost three teeth following a collision with former Ajax Cape Town team-mate Aidan Jenniker in an Absa Premiership match two years ago.

FILE PICTURE: Thulani Hlatshwayo. Picture: Lee Warren/Gallo Images.

“It tested my character, I learnt who I am,” Hlatshwayo said after a training session at his new home, Bidvest Wits.

“You don’t know how strong you are until being strong is your last option. The next day, waking up and seeing my face like that, I couldn’t believe it was me.

“All I wanted to do was be around the team since I lived alone in Cape Town. There was no option for me to go home and cry to mom.”

Now the 24-year-old defender, who was born in Soweto, can go home to cry to his mother any day. But his strong character should prevent him from that, having left home as a 16-year-old.

“I never grew up in an academy,” Hlatshwayo said.

“I was just a boy from Soweto playing for Senaoane Gunners and I did well where I was and I managed to be here.

“I worked hard to be where I am. There were people who doubted me. My mentor Mike Ntombela has been more than a manager – he has been a father figure too.”

In Wits coach Gavin Hunt, Hlatshwayo will be working with another father figure who is a perfectionist. He will line up with his new team-mates this morning against Bloemfontein Celtic at 9.30am in the e.tv Charity Showdown at Bidvest Stadium.

Mpumalanga Black Aces will face AmaZulu in the second semifinal at 12pm. The two winners go through to the 4pm final.

“Coach Gavin Hunt always wanted me,” Hlatshwayo said.

“I felt honoured to be wanted by such a coach. Wits play my style of football, passing the ball around well, and I feel comfortable making the decision to join them. I don’t have any regrets whatsoever.

“No one gave Wits a chance last season but they pushed hard.

“We have a strong team. It is just a matter of getting the understanding right.”