CAPE TOWN – Seven-year-old Mateo Manousakis has become one of the most recognised faces in the PSL. The cherubic kid leads the Cape Town City squad in their pre-match singing and dancing routines.
He knows the words to all the songs and he moves and dances in tune. He’s a delight to watch and his enthusiasm for local football and the City players is infectious. As a result, the kid is a massive hit with football fans across the country; he is a social media and internet sensation.
In fact, it’s probably a bit bizarre in that Mateo’s father, Vasili, is Benni McCarthy’s assistant-coach at City: and, yet, while the dad goes about his business quietly behind the scenes, the young son has become a bit of a celebrity, with a cult following in the PSL.
“I didn’t expect it at all,” said Manousakis about his son’s popularity. “He’s always showed an interest in football, even back when he was four or five and came down to training when I was at FC Cape Town. But I think, here at City, it’s just the amazing team spirit that took him in; he has the love and respect from the players, he can feel it, it’s real, and they always want to see him.
“I guess it’s not often that you see it - a white kid obsessed with the PSL - but that’s what it is. He knows all the players. For him, it’s not about Man United, or Chelsea or Liverpool, it’s all about the PSL.”
As for Mateo, he didn’t want to talk too much about his singing and dancing, or the fact that it has made him so popular among football fans. He had only one focus - and that was on the clash between City and Chiefs at the Cape Town Stadium tomorrow. He can’t wait for the action to get underway.
“I think City will beat Chiefs 2-0, with (Craig) Martin and Shaka (Siphelele Mthembu) to score against his old team,” said Mateo. “And there will be another clean sheet for Peter (Leeuwenburgh), he hasn’t let a goal in at Cape Town Stadium yet.
“We must watch out for Chiefs’ (Khama) Billiat and (Leonardo) Castro but I think that Thami (Mkhize) and Tara ( Taariq Fielies) can stop them.”
Below: Mateo tries a Cape Town 'gatsby'
Mateo is also looking forward to seeing former City players Lebogang Manyama and Bongolethu Jayiya again. The duo now play for Chiefs.
“I can’t wait to hug Lebo when I see him because he was our old captain - but he must be on the bench; I don’t want him to play against us,” said the seven-year-old City mascot.
As for the supporters, Mateo said: “I will see all the fans before the game, at half-time and after the game. They must fill the stadium on Saturday - and the City fans must wear blue and white because there are always so many Chiefs fans in yellow.”
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