CAPE TOWN - When Cape Town City blow out the 23 candles on the birthday cake of midfielder Thabo Nodada today (Wednesday, May 2), they will feel an enormous sense of pride.
Not only has the hardworking Nodada made a massive impact on the PSL this season, but he has been the driving force behind the team's continued progress.
At the weekend, Nodada was again a brilliant, outstanding performer in City's 1-0 win over Orlando Pirates at the Cape Town Stadium. Today, he turns 23, and is able to celebrate a season of class and inspiration.
Originally from Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal, his determination to make it as a professional footballer saw him leave his home town for Johannesburg in 2009. After two years at Sandton City, he joined Mpumalanga Black Aces’ development academy in 2012.
Two years ago, Nodada was part of the Aces squad relocated to the Mother City after John Comitis purchased the franchise of the Mpumalanga club.
During the first season, with Eric Tinkler in charge, the midfielder was struggling to overcome an injury and didn't see much game time. But the arrival of Benni McCarthy as coach sent Nodada's career into orbit. He is always the first name on McCarthy's team sheet.
In fact, so highly does the former Bafana Bafana striker rate Nodada that he has given him the nickname "Kante", after France and Chelsea central midfielder N’Golo Kante. McCarthy often says that watching the combative, competitive City midfielder in action is a bit like watching Kante.
So, for Nodada, it's a really special day on Wednesday. But, more than just the birthday, today is also an opportunity for him to look back, reflect and pat himself on the back: job done, all the hard work has paid off.