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A Warrior Who Plays With His Heart On His Sleeve

In this feature brought to you by DStv Rob Delport takes a look at Stellenbosch captain Deano Van Rooyen.

Stellenbosch Football Club have a very special leader in Deano David Van Rooyen.

Van Rooyen was once an attacking midfielder, a winger, who like his cousin Ashley Du Preez, tormented defences in youth football. The pair, who grew up like brothers, were teenage assassins at Lückhoff High in Idas Valley, Stellenbosch, breaking goalscoring records.

But these days the 26-year-old is arguably one of the best right-backs in South Africa, delivering consistent performances week in and week out. 

He’s also the captain of the starting XI, following the departure of Rafiq De Goede to Maritzburg United, and with long-time club captain Lee Langeveldt playing back-up to Sage Stephens in goal in the league (Langeveldt wore the armband again in a rare appearance recently as Stellenbosch beat Swallows 3-0 in the Nedbank Cup round of 32).

Van Rooyen has been at the club since he was a teenager, but it is in recent years that he has come to the fore, and this despite going through things that may have derailed so many.

At first, he (and Du Preez) struggled to break into the first-team squad, but even back then, Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker described the pair as the “future of the club”.

When Stellies were still in the second tier, he also spent some time on loan at Maties Football Club but came back to help Stellies win promotion to the DStv Premiership in the 2018/2019 campaign.

While his game-time was limited in their first season in the top flight, Van Rooyen fought hard and over the past three seasons has been one of the first names on Barker’s team sheet.

Three years ago, during the Covid-pandemic, both of his parents passed away, and now with Oshwin Andries’ tragic passing, Van Rooyen has lost not only a teammate but another family member, as the two were also related. It has been a huge test of his mental strength.

While certainly not as tragic, Van Rooyen also lost his ‘partner-in-crime’ for many years, when Du Preez made his well-documented move to Kaizer Chiefs at the end of the last season.

Barker paid tribute to his captain and praised Van Rooyen for showing remarkable character.

“Yes, Rob, and he is related to Oshwin, he is his cousin so you know it’s another close family member that Deano’s lost. So ja, it’s not easy,” Barker replied when asking about having a leader like Van Rooyen, especially at the difficult time of losing Andries. 

“But Deano’s shown remarkable character to have come through the loss of both his parents in a short space of time and with Oshwin now, so it’s not easy for him. 

“But he’s a warrior, he is a fighter, he plays with his heart on his sleeve. He’s grown as an individual. 

“Again, a massive success story for us as a football club. When I arrived years back, Sammy Troughton was still here. Deano and Ashley Du Preez would sometimes not be able to make training sessions because they were at school. 

“And sometimes when they were able to make training sessions, they would sort of jog from Idas Valley, and Lückhoff High all the way to Coetzenberg (about 3km) for training sessions. 

“And you know, they were kids that didn’t have a lot of confidence in sort of speaking, and voicing their opinion and talking and then to see the way Deano has developed and has grown.”

Not only is he a homegrown player, but their captain is also the most-capped player at the DStv Premiership club.

Van Rooyen has played 113 games for Stellenbosch in all competitions, scoring four goals.

“Now to be the most capped player at Stellenbosch, to now be leading the team,” Barker continued. 

“You know he’s also looking after his siblings, he takes care of them and he’s a breadwinner at home. So a lot of pressure on Deano, but at the same time, he’s risen above all these challenges and stood tall. 

“He’s a player that puts in consistently good performances week in and week out. He’s one of those players that is first on our team sheet because you know you’re going to get an 8+ performance from Deano.

“And I would love nothing more for him, as a person and as a captain of this team to lift a trophy at some stage in his career for Stellenbosch Football Club.” 

This article first appeared in Edition 91 of iDiski Times.

iDiski Times
iDiski Times
iDiski Times is one of the fastest-growing football brands in South Africa. Boasting a free weekly newspaper as well as a 24/7 news website with top breaking news in the PSL (DStv Premiership, Motsepe Foundation Championship), women's football and all other major tournaments in South Africa and abroad.