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Underrated and undervalued: Daine Klate on his missed Bafana Bafana fortune

22:25 EAT 08/07/2020
Daine Klate during a triaing session with South Africa Bafana Bafana in 2016
The retired great speaks to Goal about his struggles to break into the Bafana Bafana squad despite an accomplished career in the PSL

Orthodox wingers play along the touchline, dribble past defenders and bring in quality crosses for strikers to score. And while the team is busy tending to the opponent’s attack, they drop back to save the day as well.

Modern wingers, on the other hand, make a team. They are creative, silky, explosive and clinical. They entertain and excite whilst simultaneously being an important cog in the football wheel.

Another definition for such a player is Daine Klate.

The recently retired Premier Soccer League legend is one of the most naturally gifted players to come from South Africa. However, his lack of impact at Bafana Bafana level is a disappointment.

It's staggering that Klate was only capped 15 times for Bafana, despite a flourishing career with an abundance of club titles.

Was he underrated and unappreciated, or was he outshone by Siphiwe Tshabalala who perhaps caught the eye a little easier?

In comparison to Tshabalala, one of Klate's direct competitors for the national team spot, across all competitions Klate totalled 347 appearances, scored 58 and assisted 57, while Shabba sits on 361 appearances, with 51 goals and 77 assists.

Shabba may have played 14 more matches than Klate, and has notched 10 more assists also, but Klate scored three more goals than the former Kaizer Chiefs star despite playing fewer matches. In minutes-per-goal ratio, Klate is on 441 while 'Shabba' takes slightly longer with 511 minutes between his goals.

The point of the above comparison is not to argue who is better, but thus to prove that if it was just about efficiency, Klate would be joint top of the class in the school of the country's finest left-footed midfielders alongside Shabba - who wracked 90 Bafana caps.

"I don't think there was anything I could do to change my Bafana fortunes," Klate told Goal.

"Like I've said before, you know, if you're the best player in the league and still not able to get to crack into the Bafana team, you know, then obviously nothing else is going to matter.

"I mean if being the player of the season in 2010 couldn't merit the position in Bafana then obviously you know nothing else will.

"It was just about preference, whoever the coach was and whatever philosophies they wanted to use. They felt I wasn't suitable for that and I beg to differ because I came from the School of Excellence and I can play any type of football.

"At the School of Excellence, we used to play a brand of football that is possession-based you know.

"Similar to Barcelona, we were not allowed to give the ball away. And when I moved to the PSL I had to work with different coaches and adapt and we were taught to adapt to any situation and again no one cared to explain to me why I was omitted from Bafana.

"But it is now water under the bridge for me."

By winning the 2010 PSL Player of the Season award, Klate thought there would be an open door for him ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The first on the continent.

"The World Cup snub was one of those things," Klate adds.

"Obviously, at the time, it was extremely disappointing. I didn't have any regrets because I think I was the Player of the Season leading up to the World Cup.

"So, you know, I did everything I could control to be in that team. I worked extremely hard performed, controlled everything that I could control to be part of the team, but unfortunately, you know, I probably wasn't in the plans of the coach at the time and I just had to accept it and move on and you know, obviously go join Pirates after the World Cup and winning two more league titles, the double treble and the Nedbank Cup and moving on to Wits.

"So, it never really put me back. It was disappointing at the time.

"But as I said, you know, it's something that was beyond my control, it wasn't because of my performance or anything like that, I was just not preferred."

Instead of focusing on his missed opportunities with the national side, the Port Elizabeth born winger used his snub as motivation and went on to dominate the local scene with aplomb. It seemed he went and won a trophy for every time he was omitted. Amassing the Premier Soccer League's record of 15 titles won over a thrilling 16-year career. His career began at SuperSport United in 2004 and ended at Chippa United in 2019.

Klate's 15 titles are made up of a record of six PSL titles, three MTN8's, two Telkom Knockout's and three Nedbank Cup titles. He also won the 2004 SAA Supa 8 (now MTN8) triumph with Matsatsantsa prior to his PSL debut later that year.

"The more I was snubbed by Bafana the more I just added on to my collection of winning medals in the PSL."

"And yeah, that's all I could do. It was to do the best I can and enjoy my career and again, I've got no regrets.

"I think if it was meant for me obviously things that are meant for you, will be there for you, you know.

"Certain doors if they are open for you, then no one can close them. So, it's just about believing in that and believing that whatever's meant to be, will be."

"But yeah, that [being overlooked] drove me and I'm glad I went on and it didn't set me back in my career, locally, it obviously spurred me on and I kept going, you know I was resilient and not bothered too much with Bafana."

Klate, 35, also holds the record of being the first player to win five back-to-back league titles.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for one of the best players of his generation. The fundamental element of being classified as an underrated footballer is not receiving enough credit. And as with most elite players who wrote their way into history after facing near-impossible odds, 'Matatazela' is a typical testimony.