The founder of the Philly’s Games, Finny Mathebula does not hide his pride the moment the name Themba Zwane pops up.
Mathebula has witnessed the Tembisa-born star turning into something of a colossus over the last couple of seasons.
The 62-year-old recalls the one time he saw two officials ‘fighting’ over the talented midfielder at the Philly’s Games.
The man popularly known as ‘Mshishi’ had turned on a five star performance on the day (in 2010) and attracted the interest of a few PSL clubs.
“I saw people fighting in one of the tents and I went over only to find they were fighting over Themba (Zwane). I said I’d leave them to resolve it on their own,” Mathebula, pictured below, told FARPost on the sidelines of this year’s final played on Tuesday.
He singles out the reigning Footballer of the Season as the one footballer who has made him immensely proud from the array of stars that have previously featured in the tournament.
Zwane, in a separate interview, also told FARPost that he was eternally grateful for the platform the Philly’s Games gave him.
“Themba called me one day and said we should continue with the Games because they present a good platform for youngsters. He’s one person I’m really proud of when I see what he has achieved,” Mathebula said.
Zwane, who joined Mamelodi Sundowns in 2011 after displaying his ingenuity at the festive tournament, was crowned Footballer of the Season last term after an outstanding spell as he helped Sundowns lift their third successive league title.
He also walked away with the Midfielder of the Season accolade as well as Players’ Player of the Season to cap a treble-winning season.
“As a young player when those games are played, you get to meet professional footballers as well as get the platform to showcase your talent.
“I remember playing with the likes of Katlego ‘Killer’ Mphela, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Tsietsi Mahoa, Teko Modise and Mthokozisi Yende.
“It made me want to keep going on, I had the feeling I could be in the PSL after rubbing shoulders with them.
“They also gave me advice on how I could become a professional footballer. They said ‘you have potential and you can be anything you want to be in football’.
“So, the Philly’s Games are very important. There are scouts there as well,” Zwane said.
RELATED STORY: Philly’s Games: How football stopped gunshots
By Mthokozisi Dube