Stellenbosch FC midfielder Darrel Matsheke says he nearly called it quits after leaving Kaizer Chiefs at the end of last season.
Matsheke was speaking at the press conference after Stellies won their first major trophy, beating TS Galaxy in the Carling Knockout final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.
The former Amakhosi man entered the game in the second half and scored the winning penalty, sending Fiacre Mtwari the wrong way to see Steve Barker’s side win 5-4 on penalties.
Matsheke confirmed that he came close to signing for Motsepe Foundation Championship side Casric Stars before the call from Stellenbosch came through, revealing he had given up on playing in the DStv Premiership.
“I thought I would not play in the DStv Premiership again,” said Matsheke, whom Chiefs previously loaned to Uthongathi and Moroka Swallows, with a gold medal around his neck.
“To me and my family, this means a lot, and to the team as well, they have welcomed me. It’s amazing to see where I come from – the commitment to each player, the management, they have been supportive.”
Matsheke, whose Chiefs contract was not renewed at the end of last season, was invited to train with Stellenbosch in Johannesburg when they came for a match and apparently coach Steve Barker took 10 minutes to be impressed.
“I was supposed to sign with Casric Stars, but I got a call from Stellenbosch and that call changed my life I could say. I was like an hour away from signing [for] Casric Stars,” he continued before he was overcome by emotions.
After that, another question came through on the very same line and Matsheke was able to hold himself to tell the story.
“It was very hard. At some point, I wanted to call it quits, but I’d like to thank my mum. She encouraged me not to give up, she kept on pushing me and said one call would come and it did.”
Stellies identified Matsheke as replacement for Sibongiseni Mthethwa after Chiefs signed him from Barker’s side before the transfer window was slammed shut.
Unlike Mthethwa, Matsheke now has a winning medal around his neck.