Midfielder among last of those who started playing in the 90s and is still going strong.
Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Josta Dladla is one of only a handful of players who can boast of being among the last veterans standing in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
The 34-year-old marks his 14th season in the professional ranks and was one of the crop who made their debuts during the formative years of the PSL.
Dladla’s milestone makes him Amakhosi’s most experienced player in their current roster.
Despite seeing little action under coach Stuart Baxter, the former Bafana Bafana trainer still expects Dladla to play
a key role as the club’s senior player.
“We wouldn’t extend his contract if we didn’t think that he could become a sort of Ryan Giggs for Chiefs,” said Baxter in reference to Manchester United’s golden oldie Giggs, who is still playing at 39.
“Giggs can play wide, central, off the strikers, and Josta has to show that he has the resilience of Giggs – that he can sit on the bench and be a good substitute or start the game and be a team player. He should be enthusiastic in training and inspire the younger boys.”
Dladla sprung to prominence with BidVest Wits during the 1999/2000 season.
He has proved to be a loyal club man, having turned out for Wits between 1999 and 2001, and Mamelodi Sundowns between 2004 and 2009, before his transfer to Chiefs four years ago.
Said Dladla of his longevity in the game: “If you look at guys like Sibusiso Zuma and Siyabonga Nomvethe, they have invested more time perfecting their game. It is the love of the game and wanting to achieve more that keeps me going. Self-discipline is also key, regardless of the environment one comes from. I know the struggles and I want a better life for myself.”
His rewards from the game include a total of three league winners’ medals he earned with Chiefs and Sundowns.
Dladla also paid tribute to Amakhosi fans for showing their faith in him when they voted him into Amakhosi’s starting line-up for the Carling Black Label Cup game against Orlando Pirates.
“It’s such a blessing and my job is to do the talking on the field,” said the man who enjoyed a two-year stint with Denmark outfit Aarhus GF before being lured back home by Sundowns in 2004.
As for his future, Dladla said he was the only one who could decide his fate.
He has been on year-to-year contract extensions at Amakhosi, probably because the club is being cautious about his age and inconsistent selection.
The PSL has recently seen the likes of former Wits midfielder Stanton Fredericks and Chiefs goalie Arthur Bartman retire from the game.
Wits keeper Emile Baron remains the only man who has played under the old National Soccer League structure and the PSL banner, and is still actively involved.
Last 10 veterans standing
Emile Baron (BidVest Wits)
» He made his professional debut with the now-defunct Hellenic in the 1996/97 season.
Moeneeb Josephs (BidVest Wits)
» “Slim Kat” entered the Premier Soccer League (PSL) ranks with the now-defunct Cape Town Spurs in the 1997/98 season.
Lucky Lekgwathi (Orlando Pirates)
» The centre back also debuted in the Premiership in the 1997/98 season with the now-defunct Mahwelereng Real Rovers.
Rowen Fernandez (SuperSport United)
» He entered the professional ranks in the 1997/98 season as a Wits University goalkeeper.
Sibusiso Zuma (SuperSport)
» “Rhee” came to prominence with the now-defunct African Wanderers in the 1997/98 season.
Siyabonga Nomvethe (Moroka Swallows)
» “Bhele” also arrived in 1997/98 with African Wanderers.
Peter Petersen (Maritzburg United)
» Debuted with Hellenic in 1998.
Dillon Sheppard (Maritzburg)
» “Sheppy” entered into the elite ranks with Seven Stars in 1998/99.
Lefa Tsutsulupa (Swallows)
» Debuted with Bloemfontein Celtic in 1999.
Dikgang Mabalane (Swallows)
» “Terminator” made his Premiership debut with Jomo Cosmos in 1999.
» The list covers those who made their PSL debut in the late 90s
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