Sometimes, though, this immense contribution, even from the most self-effacing, is just impossible to ignore. Lebogang Manyama’s extraordinary clean sweep at Monday night’s PSL awards ceremony is such a case: Footballer of the Season, Players’ Player of the Season and the Top Goal-scorer award.
Throughout the season, game in and game out, the Cape Town City skipper has been a beacon of excellence. And yet, in word and body language, he has always fobbed off any personal praise, preferring to lionise his teammates and the team as a whole.
Good things, without doubt, happen to good guys: It may be an old, hoary cliche, but it’s a gospel that many a PSL footballer would do well to take to heart.
It all started with City’s very first game in the PSL. Manyama, at the time, was making his way back from injury. He had hardly had a pre-season.
He entered proceedings in the 56th minute, put himself about with energy and enthusiasm, and changed the course of the game. City won 2-0 - and Manyama has never looked back.
Goals, assists, leadership, inspiration, it has all been there, in spades. Take a bow, young man - you deserve every award, every accolade, and every compliment and congratulation.
Football in the Mother City always gets a bit of the Cinderella treatment. It toils away in obscurity and hardly ever receives the recognition it deserves. On Monday night, though, the entire country had to sit up and applaud as Cape football took its place as the belle of the ball.
In addition to Manyama’s achievements, City winger Aubrey Ngoma walked off with the Telkom Knockout Player of the Tournament and the Midfielder of the Season. Mitchells Plain’s Abbubaker Mobara, now at Orlando Pirates, was named the Nedbank Cup Player of the Tournament, while the Goalkeeper of the Season was Bothasig’s Darren Keet, who played an influential role in Wits’ charge to the PSL title.
Another Cape connection was Gavin Hunt, the Coach of the Season. Monday’s win is the fifth time he’s taken the coaching award. If you want to talk about Cape football excellence, look no further than the man we all call “Huntie”.
And, just for good measure, let’s claim the Defender of the Season, Thulani Hlatshwayo, as well. He’s from Soweto, but it was at the Ajax Cape Town academy where he honed his craft, and it was as a PSL player for the Cape club that he matured his game.
Today, without doubt, Hlatshwayo, who is also the Bafana Bafana captain, is one of the best footballers in the PSL.
I’ve had the privilege of tracking, monitoring and watching Hlatshwayo grow from a raw but talented young kid in the Ajax academy, to his sensational elevation to the PSL squad, and now the fearless, inspirational leader at the heart of the Wits defence.
I have nothing but respect for the genial, gentle giant we call “Tyson”. But, as good as he performed this season, it’s safe to say there was only one player who could edge Hlatshwayo as Footballer of the Season: Manyama. And that alone is a testament to just how brilliant the City captain was.
But, also, spare a thought for Ajax’s Grant Margeman Just last year the Bonteheuwel teenager was in matric at Modderdam High School, this year he took the PSL by storm and he was brilliant for the South Africa Under-20s at the World Cup in South Korea. The fact that he was not even nominated for Young Player of the Season is a travesty of justice and leaves a bit of a stain on the PSL awards.