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Mamelodi Sundowns: Rivaldo Coetzee's inspirational story

12:33 GMT+3 11/09/2018
Rivaldo Coetzee
At such a young age, Coetzee has already experienced many of the highs and lows of professional football, but his journey is not over just yet

Ever since Rivaldo Coetzee took the Premier Soccer League (PSL) by storm as a 17-year-old, he has been seen as a star in the making.

Not only does Coetzee share a name with one of the all-time greatest players in Brazilian great Rivaldo, but the defender is not too shabby on the ball either.

Over the years, South Africa has produced some great defenders. Just look at the likes of Lucas Radebe, Mark Fish, Matthew Booth and Mbulelo Mabizela, and in 2017, when Coetzee was on the verge of a move to Scottish giants Celtic, he looked to be following suit.

However, despite being the second youngest player to play for his country, Coetzee’s move fell through as he failed his medical.

But when it all looked lost for the youngster, Coetzee would then be snapped up by Mamelodi Sudowns as Pitso Mosimane looked to bolster his defensive department.

But what started off as a bright and flourishing career, has hit a hurdle as his injury has taken longer than expected to heal.

Coetzee’s injury woes saw him miss the 2017/18 campaign and he is yet to feature for the first team.

This injury has left Coetzee in despair with reports previously doing the rounds that he may have even been contemplating early retirement.

Nonetheless, despite all the reports and uncertainty that even his coach admitted that he was worried about the player, Coetzee finally made his debut for Sundowns this past weekend, albeit for the MultiChoice Diski Challenge team.

He lasted for 72 minutes on his return without any problems, and this is inspirational for any player who is battling with serious and long-term injuries. 

While Coetzee’s full recovery may still be a few weeks off as he acclimatises to the tempo of professional football once again, what he has done is nothing short of a miracle.

At the age of 21, it would be very easy for Coetzee to have called time on his career as he had time to pursue another career, but to his credit, the Kakamas-born player never gave up and in many ways, his age could also have been the reason for that.

Granted that suffering such a severe injury at such a young age could easily demotivate a player, but knowing that time was still on his side, might have kept him going.

Also, prior to his injury, Coetzee played in a total of 82 league games for Ajax. Not to many South African players have played so many matches at Coetzee's age. 

Nonetheless, while it is still unclear how Coetzee has recovered as reports doing the rounds suggest that he may have been using an injection in order to deal with the discomfort on his foot, his willingness to fight back from not only missing out on a dream move to Europe but to return from a long-term injury, is an achievement on its own.

With such determination to succeed, it will certainly not come as a surprise if Coetzee does eventually realise his European dream.

As the saying goes, ‘form is temporary, but class is permanent’. So, in the case of Coetzee, it shouldn’t be too long before he once again sets the South African football alight and perhaps even find himself back in the Bafana Bafana fold.