Young Samuel Connelly has emerged as a player for the future after producing a string of impressive performances for the Madibaz football team this season.
Last week, Madibaz wrapped up the Nelson Mandela Bay SAB Regional League title for the second straight year, a campaign in which the 20-year-old’s consistency as a player and his dedication in training stood out.
The 20-year-old, himself, was over the moon with the team’s success this season.
“Wow! It’s an incredible feeling,” he said. “It’s like when you’re hungry, and you order four wings, but they give you six – that’s the exhilaration I felt when we won the SAB league.”
Having grown up in Schauderville in Port Elizabeth’s northern areas, Connelly said he started playing soccer at the age of seven and joined Hotspurs when he was 11.
“I still remember how I would train with all my soccer gear on, including long socks and shin guards,” he said.
“I was lucky enough to win a number of awards throughout my soccer career and also to be in leadership positions.”
As a youngster, his game developed a great deal when he received an opportunity to tour Holland, Spain and Germany.
“I learnt a lot from other coaches outside South Africa,” said Connelly.
While he has received praise for his performances this season, the Madibaz player said he would never relax in the quest for success.
“I am a player who believes there’s always room for improvement and I still ask my coaches where I can improve.
“I definitely think my height [1.96m] is a big asset and I try not just to play the game, but I try out-think the opposition.
“The ability to listen to my coach’s instructions is also a strength. They can tell me one thing and not have any reason to touch that topic again.”
In praising a number of coaches who have influenced his career, Connelly also acknowledged his family, who have always been there in support.
“They would always make plans to watch me and it’s these small things that helped me develop into the player that I am today.”