CAPE TOWN – Another Hanover Park footballer is destined to make an impact on the word football stage after 18-year-old midfielder Tashreeq Matthews penned a deal with German giants Borussia Dortmund yesterday.
The most famous Hanover Park football name, of course, is none other than Benni McCarthy, who enjoyed a stellar career in Europe with Ajax Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Celta Vigo (Spain), Porto (Portugal), with whom he won the Uefa Champions League, and Blackburn Rovers (England).
Matthews came through the Ajax Cape Town youth academy and, during those junior years, the Cape football grapevine had already been abuzz that he was a talent to watch. This week his potential was confirmed when he was welcomed into one of Europe’s top clubs.
Former Bafana Bafana player Lance Davids, now based in Europe, acts as the family adviser to the Matthews family with regards to Tashreeq’s future in the game - and he briefly sketched how the deal came about.
“We always knew Tashreeq had something special, so when he was 17 we took him around Europe, where (he) was on trial with a number of clubs,” said Davids. “He impressed at all the clubs, all of them were interested, but Tashreeq was set on Dortmund. He was training there for a while and this week we were able to conclude a deal with the German club.
“Tashreeq has everything to be a successful professional,” added Davids, who himself played in Europe for clubs like 1860 Munich (Germany), Djurgarden (Sweden) and Lierse (Belgium).
“He is quick, can play out wide, or as a No 10, and he can go box to box. He has an opportunity now, so it’s all up to him.”
McCarthy, the current coach of Cape Town City, in fact had Matthews training with his team earlier this year, and when the news of Matthews’ transfer broke, he wished the youngster well: “Well done, Tassie (Matthews). Very happy for you and your family, make them proud, my man! There’s real hope for people from Hanover Park now, the second person from Hanover Park to go worldwide.”
Former Ajax Cape Town head of scouting Sergio dos Santos also believes Matthews has what it takes. While Dos Santos, a former coach of Kaizer Chiefs, Cape Town Spurs, Hellenic and Santos, is no longer at Ajax, he was there when the young Matthews was turning it on in the Cape club’s junior ranks.
“It has taken many years since that 1996 Bafana Bafana squad for a player to catch the eye,” said Dos Santos. “Matthews is such a player - he is a precocious talent. He may be slim in size and stature, but he makes up for it in his commitment and his desire to succeed.
He is very quick, has a great football brain and is comfortable with both feet. He can run and tackle.”