He has for years been one of the most stylish midfielders in the country, and the heart and soul of Polokwane City.
But Jabu Maluleke has had to watch from the sidelines as Bafana Bafana have plunged the depths of despair with regards to World Cup and Afcon qualifying.
Now 36, that Bafana call-up won’t become a reality, but it doesn’t mean that those magical playmaking skills have disappeared.
In fact, Maluleke is still capable of producing those defence-splitting passes, as well as scoring and delivering perfect crosses from free kicks and corners.
Unbelievably, Wednesday marked the day that Maluleke received a Player of the Month Award, for October, for the first time in a 13-year professional career, according to the Premier Soccer League.
Maluleke was alongside his coach, Josef Vukusic, who was chosen as the Coach of the Month for October, at the PSL offices – also the first time that Rise and Shine have won both awards.
Polokwane City are sitting in a handsome fourth position on the log at the moment, having won five and drawn two out of 10 matches, which has secured 17 points – the same as third-placed Bloemfontein Celtic, who have a better goal difference.
“The awards judging panel made up of former players, a former coach, broadcast media and analysts, praised Vukusic for his players’ understanding of his philosophy, for turning the team’s fortunes around in a short period and being able to produce good results against well-resourced teams,” the PSL said in a statement.
On Maluleke: “The judges singled him out for having a phenomenal work-rate for his age, as well as his brilliant link-up play between defence and attack, including his good ball-distribution skills. He provided an assist in City’s last league win over Maritzburg United at the end of last month.”
They will both receive R5 000 from sponsors Absa. The judging panel included Farouk Khan (convenor), Dikgang Mabalane, Thabo Kofa, Kwena Moabelo, Joe Nxumalo and Tshepo Maimane.