SuperSport United midfielder Thabo Mnyamane could be forgiven for thinking he is in ‘football school’ with all the quality surrounding him at his club.
Mnyamane joined Matsatsantsa at the start of last season from University of Pretoria, following AmaTuks’ relegation to the First Division, and has made great strides at the Tshwane giants.
On Monday evening, the former North West University student bagged the SuperSport Chairman’s Award as well as the Players’ Player of the Season accolade at the club’s annual prize-giving.
The 24-year-old has attributed his meteoric rise from being a varsity football star to a bright PSL and Bafana Bafana prospect to learning from his United teammates over the last 12 months.
“I remember when I came here last season the question was, ‘are you ready for the competition?’ and I told the media that I noticed – after pre-season camp – it’s more about brotherhood than competition,” said Mnyamane.
“I’m learning a lot from the likes of ‘Yeye’ [Reneilwe Letsholonyane], Thuso [Phala], Jeremy [Brockie], Dean [Furman], [Bradley] Grobler, and I’m taking different aspects from them and putting them into my game.
“Brockie’s one-touch finishing – I’m working on that; Yeye’s reading of the game – I’m working on that too; Thuso’s ability to take on players; Dean’s hunger and passion, always giving 100 percent in each and every game, which teaches me not to choose games; Grobler’s first touch and finishing – that’s something I admire.
“I can go on and on about my teammates, I won’t lie, I’ve taken little bits of everything from every one of them.”
Aside from his colleagues, Mnyamane also credited former SuperSport coach Stuart Baxter, who has since joined the national team, for his massive contribution to his career in a short space of time.
“We could be here the whole night [talking about Baxter]. Coach Stuart has played a huge role in my life, he’s changed the way I see football,” he added.
“He made me understand the game better, showed belief in me that I never thought was possible from anyone – there was a point where I didn’t even believe in myself.
“My confidence was low and he specifically told me that he believes me and knows what I can do, and through my ups and downs he was there for me.
“I’m very thankful that, at my age in my career, I’ve worked with a coach like him and I’ve gained a lot.”