CapeTownFootball journalist Kyle Lewis took a trip down memory lane in an exclusive interview with former Bafana international Jerome McCarthy
What makes a legendary footballer? The usual definition means the best of the best, but when it comes to modern players, it is a label lazily overused.
These days, coming on as a substitute to score a winning goal in a high-profile PSL match, or looking good in a Nedbank Cup encounter can often confer instant legend status.
But the real Cape Town legends are those whose qualities last for longer than a brief stint in the PSL. The real legends are the ones whose achievements and qualities stand the test of time, players that people still talk in awe about long after their playing days have ended.
Throughout history we have seen many a great name grace the sport of football. Every year young players come in and light up the pitch and entertain the masses. To reach legend status takes something just a little more than what the average footballer brings to the table. Scoring vital goals, playing through the pain barrier, putting in memorable performances when they really matter, legend means different things to different people.
Most of the Cape Town legends played in the golden decades from the 1980s to the 2000s. A time when Cape Town teams were actually title contenders and not just branded lucky overachievers. Many of those individuals here symbolized something beyond their own characteristics.
KL: What did it feel like getting a national team appearance, how was it different from putting on your normal club kit
JM: Representing my country was the pinnacle of my career and it was all the hard work I’ve put in at club level.
KL: Having played for PSL heavyweights, Kaizer Chiefs and former heavyweights, Santos, which derby was the more difficult one? Soweto or Cape Town
JM: For me personally the Cape Town derbies meant more to me because I’m a Cape Town lad, and it was more intense for me playing against my mates I grew up with. The Soweto derby was much bigger and popular, but for me it was just another game.
KL: So what would you say is the toughest team you’ve played against
JM: Bush Bucks away was always difficult for me, whenever we use to play there it was boiling hot and the Mugey twins use run none stop in that heat.
KL: What went through your head when you received an offer from Ajax Cape Town even though you played for their biggest rivals Santos not to long before that
JM: At the time I was playing in Johannesburg and I just wanted to come back home cause I wasn’t getting regular play time at Chiefs. Ajax offered me a deal and I jumped at the first opportunity I got. Basically I just wanted to come back to Cape Town.
KL: What’s your opinion on current Cape Town football in terms of quality
JM: Cape Town will always produce good young footballers, but the problem in my eyes is that all our best talent gets sold to all the top teams in Johannesburg. That’s why we will never win things in Cape Town.
KL: Who was the best coach you’ve played for and why
JM: I’ve played under a few good ones, but the late Budgie Byrne got the best out of me. He used to give me my freedom on the park to express myself.
KL: I know you went on went on loan to Man City for a while, how tough was it to break into that team consisting of legends such as Shuan Goater and Paul Dickov
JM: Going to England was the proudest moment for me. The time I went there Nail Quinn, Steve McMann and Peter Reid was there. I played in the youth team at the time and I did very well. Myself and a fellow South African called Clint Roper was supposed to be there for three months, but then we got ask to stay for the rest of the season cause we did pretty well there.
KL: You’ve played against many great left backs but who would you say was the toughest to beat
JM: Shaheed Bobbs definitely he had pace and never say die attitude, so I always had a tough time with him.
KL: I know you are an agent currently, but do you ever think you’ll return to the game as a coach, maybe work with your brother whose been linked to Orlando Pirates job
JM: Being a coach didn’t really cross my mind, I don’t see myself in that capacity. I prefer being a couch coach in front of the telly with my son.
KL: Thanks for your time.
JM: Pleasure Kyle