“Kaizer Chiefs is an institution,” comments Fani Madida on his former club. “They are trendsetters, who are not called the Glamour Boys for nothing. They always set the standard for others to follow.”
The striker became an Amakhosi legend, but it took him a while to get there. He first came on trial at Chiefs as a 19-year-old in 1986. He hadn’t even finished matric. “The trial lasted for three months,” Madida remembers.
Ted Dumitru was the coach at the time. The Romanian coach always had a good eye for young talent, and he didn’t miss out on the skinny boy from Newcastle. Madida was signed. However, it wasn’t easy at first to adapt to the 24/7 world of Johannesburg, coming from KwaZulu-Natal.
The Chiefs squad harboured a lot of young promising talents, including Abel Shongwe, Doctor Khumalo, Gardner Seale and Ntsie Maphike. They would eventually all make a name for themselves as Glamour Boys.
Madida’s Amakhosi debut came on 1 November 1987, followed a week later by a Mainstay Cup semi-final replay against Orlando Pirates at Ellis Park. The young striker started the match on the bench.
About ten minutes before the end of the game, he was brought on by Dumitru, replacing the iconic Patrick ‘Ace’ Ntsoelengoe. And, to put a cherry on top, Madida netted the equaliser in the 87th minute.
“It was the biggest crowd I had ever seen,” the former striker reflects on his debut. “I was nervous. I was still the tiniest of players. Ted, however, always prepared us youngsters well by fielding us in big friendly matches. I had played, for example, in a friendly in Namibia, where the stadium was packed to capacity. Those games prepared me to come on as substitute in the Soweto Derby.”
Soccer followers suddenly wondered: “Who is this new kid on the block?”
Chiefs had a great side at time, with players like Nelson ‘Teenage’ Dladla, Fetsi ‘Chippa’ Molatedi and Ntsoelengoe.
Madida struggled to really break through and was, accordingly, loaned out to Giant Blackpool. That’s where the attacker with his speedy runs and powerful shooting made his name, scoring 18 goals in the 1989 season. It didn’t take long before he returned to the Amakhosi.
The rest is history, as they say.
Madida scored 11 times for Chiefs in 1990. The following season, the striker netted 34 goals in total, a record number that he held for almost 15 years until Collins Mbesuma scored 35 goals in the 2004/5 season.
But Madida still holds the record on number of league goals scored in one season when he banged in 28 goals in 1991, helping his side to win the championship.
The striker won the Footballer of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards that year.
The striker left Chiefs halfway the following season for Turkish side Beşiktaş, followed by stints at Antalyaspor and Bursaspor. After a brief return to Amakhosi, Madida played for Seven Stars, Ajax Cape Town and Hellenic, before hanging up his boots in 2000.
He played 11 times for South Africa’s national team.
Madida was assistant coach to Muhsin Ertuğral at Chiefs (2007-2009), before becoming the assistant coach at AmaZulu and, later on, Moroka Swallows’ head coach.
He launched the Didiza 34 Foundation last year, which is aimed at using sports, education and cultural activities to expose young people to the opportunities the world has to offer. It’s basically about education through sport.
“It was such an honour to have served Kaizer Chiefs, a club with such a rich history and which is celebrating its 50th anniversary,” Madida reflects on his time at Amakhosi.
“When I joined the club, we took over from a generation of winners and we managed to raise the Kaizer Chiefs flag even higher. We set our own standard for the next generation.”