José ‘Buda’ Torrealba joined Kaizer Chiefs in 2008 from Mamelodi Sundowns, where the Venezuelan had made a name for himself as a clever striker, who had the habit of scoring crucial goals.
Amakhosi supporters will remember his great early form as a Glamour Boy, playing, for example, excellently in the 2008 MTN Cup final, helping his side to beat Mamelodi Sundowns 4-3 on penalties. Torrealba netted Chiefs’ first penalty in the shoot-out.
Later on, the Venezuelan struggled to match the high expectations, which was mainly due to chronic back pain. He left Chiefs in 2011 to return back to his country of birth. Most Amakhosi fans, however, still fondly remember ‘Buda’.
The KC Website communicated today with the now 36-year-old Torrealba, ahead of Saturday’s clash with Mamelodi Sundowns at FNB Stadium (kick-off at 20:15).
José, how are you doing… are you still playing?
I am fine. I just joined the local side Llaneros de Guanare, who are playing in the Venezuelan second division. It’s actually the team where I made my debut as a professional footballer back in 1998.
Your countryman Gutavo Páez is doing well with us. You were teammates during the 2013/2014 season at Deportivo Lara. Have you communicated with him?
I am glad to hear that he’s do doing well. I haven’t spoken much with him lately. I did talk with ‘Tavo’ after he had signed his contract with Kaizer Chiefs. I also went to talk with his wife Arianna in her home town, before she flew to South Africa.
You joined Mamelodi Sundowns in 2005. What were your first impressions when playing against Amakhosi?
I vividly remember that first game. I immediately thought, “this is a big team with big players”.
Who was the most difficult Chiefs defender to play against in those days?
It was a huge challenge every time I had to play against Derrick Spencer and Fabian McCarthy. They were quality centre-backs.
When you came for the first time to Chiefs Village – what did you see?
I saw that Kaizer Chiefs is so much more than a football team. It’s really a big organisation with a fantastic marketing team. The Village has world class facilities with excellent training grounds.
You played in our MTN8 win over Mamelodi Sundowns in 2008, scoring Chiefs’ crucial first penalty in the shoot-out. It was your first trophy wearing the Gold & Black jersey. How did that feel?
I will always treasure that moment after Reneilwe Letsholonyane slotted home the deciding penalty. It was so special. I was on another planet. It’s unexplainable what went through my mind after that Sundowns win.
The Soweto Derby is the biggest game in South African football. How does the Kaizer Chiefs-Mamelodi Sundowns match compare to that?
It’s another huge game, probably a close second to the Soweto Derby. However, especially for me, it was an immense clash, as I had played for Sundowns. A player never wants to lose against his former side and the same was true for me. So, for me, the Chiefs-Sundowns match felt like the Soweto Derby.
Kaizer Chiefs have won a record number of league titles and cup trophies, while Sundowns are the reigning league champions and African Champions League winners. How would you compare the two clubs?
Both are good, big sides and I have excellent memories from my stay at Chiefs and Sundowns. But Amakhosi are definitely a bigger club as they are involved in much more than football, they organise a lot of off-the-field activities so that the supporters can interact with the players. That’s something special and that’s also why their fan base is so huge.
What makes the Chiefs supporters so unique in your eyes?
I always felt honoured in the way they showed me love and support. To be honest, they were already friendly to me when still playing for Sundowns. They just showed respect for what was then an opponent’s striker, which was something special. I will never forget the way in which the fans always supported me, even when I was not playing well.
José, is there anything you would like to add?
I would like to salute all the supporters. Even today, I received many comments on Facebook and Instagram. Thanks to all for keeping me in their minds. I will love your forever and… I hope that I can visit you soon. Only God knows when this will happen.
I wish it will be good game on Saturday. I will definitely be vying for Kaizer Chiefs.