JOHANNESBURG – Until his goal for Chippa United against former club Mamelodi Sundowns in the opening round of the Telkom Knockout last week, Samuel Julies was truly one of South African football’s forgotten talents.
“What people don’t know is that I’m just coming back from my hamstring injury, so I have to play gradually,” Julies said this week.
He is perhaps in line to start against Kaizer Chiefs in the quarter-finals of the same cup competition at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Sunday afternoon.
It would be well deserved, despite the fact that he is still making his way back to full fitness.
Julies not only helped Chippa sink the 2016 African champions, but was instrumental on Wednesday night when he again came off the bench to score twice in their 2-0 Premiership win over Bidvest Wits, the title holders, in Johannesburg.
The two games certainly made Julies the flavour of the week, playing in a more advanced role under interim coach Teboho Moloi.
“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but as a person you have to believe in yourself.
“I make sure I play to the best of my ability in every opportunity that I get. All the work we have put in this week we work on at training, staying on afterwards to work on the crosses and the finishing.
"It doesn’t come overnight, you know,” said a man who is a product of the famed School of Excellence, which produced Steven Pienaar, Daine Klate and Bernard Parker in a long list of their talent pool.
Julies first broke into the top-flight five years ago when then-Sundowns coach Johan Neeskens deemed him good enough for first-team football when he’d just turned 21.
But he would spend the next several seasons struggling for game time and being loaned out to Vasco da Gama, before eventually joining Chippa in July, where he now looks set to revive his career.
“I need to be grounded and work hard,” Julies said.
“We have had a confidence boost from the past two results, but we have to brush it aside now and look forward to the Chiefs game.
“It’s a cup game, which will be demanding because we want to create a bit of history for our supporters and the club. It would be a great feeling (to progress to the semi-finals).”
Moloi, his current coach, also rates Julies highly.
“I have said it before that he reminds me of the late Bernard Masinga. It’s up to me as the coach how I want to use him. We know we have coaches coming here and lamenting the fact that he is short,” Moloi explained.
“They will tell you he can’t hold it up, you need to play route one and those sort of things.
“But fortunately at Chippa, we play the South African style and it suites Julies. He will continue where he left off.
“We must not forget that he comes from a good development school – the School of Excellence, and then Sundowns.
“It tells you that wherever he went, he learnt very well. The boy is clinical. What else do you want from him? You might undermine him because of his height, but he’s got strength.”
Chiefs, who are desperate for a first trophy under Steve Komphela will have their hands full this afternoon.