Kaizer Chiefs new signing Lehlogonolo George Matlou was never short of inspiration growing up in his neighbourhood with his idol Teko Modise giving him face-to-face advice.
Just like several former and current PSL stars who include his new coach Arthur Zwane along with the retired Modise, Matlou is also from Meadowlands, Soweto.
"Teko Modise is from up the road in Zone 8 and has always been my role model since day one," Matlou said in his last interview with this publication.
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"I grew up looking up to him. Even in the Pirates development I wore number 11 because of him.
"I was never short of players to look up to because even Yeye (Reneilwe Letsholonyane) is also from another zone in Meadowlands, so there are stars that I could relate to.
"There was even Vila (Sibusiso Vilakazi) who is also from Meadowlands, so I was spoilt in having players from here that I could look up to.
"I didn’t have to look further than the hood for inspiration and before I went to Portugal, I had a conversation with Teko and he told me ‘Boy, don’t worry, your chance will come so just keep on working’.
"I felt motivated hearing this from my idol," says Matlou.
"You have to understand that I’m just a boy who was raised in a backyard one room in Meadowlands who slept on the floor till I was 20.
"All five of us, my mom and dad, sister and younger brother lived in that one room, so I have always had to push for the sake of improving the life of my family.
"These are the experiences that have made me want to push in making it in football because from a young age I also saw how the lives of guys playing professional football changed," says Matlou.
"My dad has always been there for me and every time I play, I always think of him. He was one of those rare black parents who never missed any of his son’s games. He could even miss his piece jobs just to watch me playing. He was there to buy me boots and would even go out of his way to use his bakkie to transport other kids that I played with.
"I’m told my day played with Peter Rabolele (ex-Swallows and Wits midfielder)," says Matlou whose family has since moved to Eldorado Park.
Born at Discovery Hospital in Roodepoort and grew up in Meadowlands Zone 3, he started out with Charlton Athletic, then Swallows, Orlando Pirates and BidVest Wits juniors before loan stints at Cape Town All Stars and Cape Umoya United.
Matlou – who turns 24 next month – then went to Portuguese club AD Sanjoanense where a match official called him a little monkey before joining Swallows at the beginning of last month.