Papy Faty played his first competitive football over the weekend after returning from ilness. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackPagePix

DURBAN - The story of former Bidvest Wits midfield maestro, Papy Faty is inspirational and educational. Faty has signed a two-year deal with the National First Division outfit Real Kings.

The diminutive midfielder from Burundi was once on the radar of Orlando Pirates when he was in devastating form for the Clever Boys. Two seasons ago, health problems struck and his contract at Wits was not renewed. Given his diagnosis with a heart condition, no club seemed to want to be associated with Faty. As a result he disappeared from football for two years.

“I’ve been out for two seasons without playing football. I had to be mentally strong. I nearly quit football. I lost love my for football, I didn’t want to play anymore. Reports about my condition were killing my mind. I knew that I wasn’t seriously sick like people were putting it. My mom told me to keep the faith because I left school to play football. She told me to push myself and get myself to work once again,” Faty said.

Faty was at his best in the KwaZulu-Natal Premier’s Cup this past weekend. He scored two goals in two matches and showed signs of the old Faty who was adored by the masses in South Africa.

“My family motivated me. They kept me going. The past two years have been challenging for me. I was at the point where I wanted to what I love the most. It wasn’t easy. It was never easy. Even Andres Iniesta cried when he left Barcelona. It is because of the passion that he had for the club. I was also emotional,” Faty elaborated.

“My family was there for me in trying times. I invested quite a bit but my family supported me. I got a job to be a soccer analyst with Kwese. They were calling me and I had to fly to Johannesburg from time to time. That’s how I earned income.”

Faty wants to repay the coach at Kings, Simo Dladla, for showing faith in him when no one else did. “I’m very thankful to the coach. He showed faith in myself after having a conversation with me. I told him I’m on medical treatment and I’ve been treating myself," he explained.

"He told me that it is fine. Everyone was running away from me. No one wanted to give me an opportunity. The coach told me that he is not God, he can’t judge me but he wants to give me a chance. I told him that I will not disappoint him. I want to show him that I’m not what people have been saying about myself."

The midfielder revealed his admiration for South Africa. “When I left Wits, I had an offer somewhere else. It was bigger than here in South Africa but I wanted to stay in the country. I had a bad name and I wanted to clear all the uncertainty around my condition. That’s the reason why I also joined Real Kings,” he continued.

Faty was delighted with his two impressive displays this past weekend against Uthongathi and AmaZulu. “It is a good feeling. Scoring two goals in two matches. I’m really so happy. There’s never a downgrade in football," he said.

"So, signing for Kings is not a step down for me. It is a great start for me after the challenges that I went through in the last two years. NFD is a very strong league. You need to be strong mentally in order to succeed. The PSL is more technical and tactical whereas the NFD is physical and more challenging."

Kings came close to qualifying for the play-offs. Faty knows that he still needs to work diligently on his fitness as he aims to help Kings challenge for promotion.

“I need to work a lot on my level of fitness. I’m slowly getting there. I really enjoyed my time on the pitch. Last season they were close to getting into the play-off but fell short. I believe that the club has assembled a good team. We have a strong team to challenge for honours this season."

The Star

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