YOU could be forgiven for assuming Patrick Mayo played his best soccer at Kaizer Chiefs when you look at what he achieved at the club.
But the well-travelled and well-decorated NU12 resident – who has played for SuperSport United, Thanda Royal Zulu, Michau Warriors, Bay United and has 18 caps for Bafana Bafana with six goals – says he played his best football for the Amathole amnyama (Mthatha Bush Bucks) at the stadium dubbed Slaagpan.
"I was never restricted at Bucks. What drove me more was the fact that it was a team from the Eastern Cape.
"That is where I established myself and I never looked back, but I had to leave because of money. The team was well-supported and the vibe was always electrifying.
"Thabo Mooki [Chiefs former player] and other players from Johannesburg teams told me they used to fake injuries when they had to travel to Mthatha at the weekend, because the field was so hard. We would not water it the whole week leading to the game, while training on it with six-stud boots,” said Mayo.
The versatile player – he was a defender, midfielder and striker – said Bucks’ fans did not take his decision to leave the club well.
"I spoke to the chairman [Sturu Pasiya] and explained my reasons for wanting to leave. But the fans were not so understanding. I got death threats after I missed two opportunities against Chiefs. And they really swore at me when I first went there with SuperSport – the same people I used to call my friends.”
He went on to share more about his playing days.
"Jose Torrealba [former Mamelodi Sundowns and Chiefs player] and Jermain Defoe [Tottenham Hotspurs and England international] are the toughest opponents I ever faced. You could see they were international players.
"Ellis Park was the best stadium to play at. When it comes to coaches, I rate Trott Moloto and Ted Dumitru highly. Moloto was the first coach to call me up to Bafana Bafana and he also coached me at Bucks. Ted revived my career when everyone thought I was done,” he said.
Mayo is also a family man.
"I have been married for 10 years now with two boys Khanyisa, 13, and Khanyisile, 12, who also play soccer.”
He is currently a soccer analyst at Umhlobo Wenene FM and hopes to own a soccer team. "I want to pass down my experience to the youth.
"I believe that will help decrease the high level of crime, because it will keep the youngsters busy.”
Mayo says the national team is struggling because of lack of developmental structures at grassroots level.