Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Coetzee Denies Thoughts Of Quitting

Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Rivaldo Coetzee says he never thought of giving up despite two career-threatening injuries.

Coetzee was touted as the next Bafana Bafana captain when he burst onto the scene as a teenager with Ajax Cape Town before making his senior national team debut at aged 17.

He became an integral part of the Urban Warriors and national team set-up and eventually Glasgow Celtic came calling for his services after Ajax Amsterdam stalled on a move.

But after securing personal terms, heartbreak followed, where he failed his medical and was advised to potentially retire from football six years ago.

Sundowns came calling, signed him from Ajax and nurtured him back to fitness over the span of more than 12 months. And after starring in a new defensive midfield role, injury struck in 2022 which saw him ruled out and featured only five times last season.

But Sundowns were not giving up on his talent, and he’s been in supreme form, missing only one of their opening 11 games of the new season in a defensive midfield, centre-back hybrid role.

“There’s never been any doubt in my mind [over my career] that this is what I wanted to do, all my life, so I knew that it’s going to require a little bit more and the mental part is very big, especially in sport in general,” Coetzee said.

“And then you have all these amazing people around you that help and guide you, a little bit of extra work in the gym with physios, focusing a lot on recovery, so there was never any doubt – I knew I would come back.

“It was just about being mentally strong and being in good shape, as the coach said, take care of your body, take care of your career as well. 

“I always knew I would come back and then it’s a matter of controlling what you can, being your best at training every day. [Impress] in the gym, on the pitch, the rest is up to the technical team then.”

Coetzee, last featured for Bafana back in 2021, and prior to that, in 2017, says he never felt that he’s been underappreciated, as naturally, a wonderkid who never quite hit the heights expected of them can often be outcasted and written off by the public.

“Everyone has their cup of tea, everyone always has their opinions, but for me, I feel appreciated here at this club, very much so,” Coetzee said.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been in the Bafana set-up but my main aim is to stay fit, and play as many games as I can – because I have been out for a year, it’s too long.

“Now it’s about being focused, staying fit and trying to help the team as much as I can. I think I have developed a lot since I came here.

“It’s when I moved into the six position and that can only benefit you, especially in the long term because you can cover different positions whenever the team needs someone to play in that position.

“When another player isn’t there I can step in. So versatility is good in football and it’s helped me to develop and be even better.”

The Kakamas-born talent has racked up 106 appearances for Sundowns, winning five league titles, Nedbank Cup, MTN8 and Telkom Knockout.

Lorenz Kohler
Lorenz Kohler
Lorenz Köhler is an award-winning South African football journalist. Having cut his teeth in the industry working at Kick-Off Magazine, he is now iDiski Times' senior digital content writer. He specialises in breaking top African football stories and transfers with a major focus on the 'big-three' Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates and CAF inter-club and international competitions. In 2021 he was listed amongst the top-five journalists under 30 in Print Media for the AIPS Awards.