JOHANNESBURG – Luvuyo Memela's tough journey to stardom, littered with injuries and disappointments, makes him savour every moment of his good run at Orlando Pirates that led to his coach arguing he deserves a Bafana Bafana call-up.
The Buccaneers’ coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic revealed that it was hard to put Memela on the bench in Saturday’s Soweto Derby clash against arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs, especially since he is among their top three performers this year.
What consoled Sredojevic on that decision was that Memela started on the bench as a secret weapon that would help them finish strong.
The 30-year-old made an immediate impact, scoring seconds into his introduction in the second half and then went on to complete a brace that helped the Sea Robbers sail to a 3-1 win.
“I remember when I came and the first man-management interview I did with him,” Sredojevic said. “I know the hardships he has gone through with the injuries and everything. I remember in the first match we played a lot of people blamed him for not passing the ball in a certain situation. We have believed in him and we gave him full support.
He has worked very hard and I can guarantee with my life that this form he is in hasn’t come from the sky. He has worked very hard. It was sweat, tears and blood. I just request that he shouldn’t get carried away by this. I can present you statistics from all possible angles that show that he is a player who deserves to wear the jersey of Bafana Bafana with the upcoming Fifa dates in March.”
Donning the Bafana jersey would be just reward for Memela who endured a lot of hardships in his career but never gave up. The Ajax Cape Town development product was promoted to the first team by coach Muhsin Ertugral but never tasted first team football in the three years he spent there while his peers flourished.
He left Ajax for Hanover Park in the first division then Chippa United before going to the ABC Motsepe League to join Cape Town All Stars.
He played his best football at All Stars, helping them gain promotion to the first division before catching the eye of the Buccaneers in 2015.
“I am happy with my performance and the form that I am in,” Memela said. “Obviously I mustn’t get carried away. I must work hard because if you check in our team everyone scores and everyone creates goals. I need to work hard each and every day to improve as a player.
“I had a tough time until I came back to the PSL. If you love what you are doing, you will not always look at where you have been but you will appreciate what you have now and thank God for giving you strength to go through whatever you went through.”
Memela’s progress at the Buccaneers was stunted by injuries.
But once he was fully fit and had a coach who backed him, he showed his quality and has shined on the big occasions. He dismantled Mamelodi Sundowns’ defence in their 3-1 win and did the same against Chiefs.
“To score two goals in a derby is something special,” Memela said.
“It was my first Soweto Derby in the league if you exclude the Nedbank Cup last season. I will try to create more goals because as you have seen in the team that we have, whoever plays we try and push them to excel because no one is better than the others. We all work together and we would die for another.”