This week we talk to Luso Legend, Andre Arendse, who started off his career with Vasco da Gama before becoming one of the most successful South African players of all time.
Andre, you came through Vasco’s Youth system, how fundamental was their support during your early career?
Vasco has a special place in my heart. One reason is that they provided me with a solid grounding which is vital for a young player. When I compare the current coaching methods to the ones used back in the day I would say they were not as fundamental as today but it was wall about the core and passion for the games.
I was coached by the likes of Sergio Dos Santos whose coaching methods were important in providing a solid grounding and to make the move from a high level of amateur football to professional. I also played alongside the greats like Carlos Das Neves who were hugely influential and that is why for me, Vasco was the perfect start to my career.
How did they prepare you for your future aboard?
The Amateur set-up back then is way different to what it is now. Back then I had Sergio Dos Santos as a coach and he helped up the methods to make it closer to professional football. He brought the level closer to a professional level which made it easier going from Vasco straight into club level.
He them made the move to Cape Town Spurs where he brought me over. He and Vasco was key was in my preparation into making the move overseas and being called up to the National squad. That step up from Amateur football was important.
You mentioned Sergio Dos Santos as an influential coach for you, who else was important for you?
Yes, I would say Sergio was one of the two massive influences in coaching. The other was Clive Barker, who took me on a national level too.
Sergio was important because his coaching was at a crucial time in my amateur career and he helped me make the move onto the professional stage which was vital. He guided and groomed me and he helped make me understand that important mindset of how to be a professional.
What legacy does Vasco Da Gama carry for the players and the club in itself?
Just looking at how they used to operate they were big on promoting themselves as a family club. We didn’t play for the just the club but we played like it was a family. We respected each other and being part of that legacy – where the team is bigger than the players – is special.
Now it looks like Vasco has still managed to carry that on and they are a wonderful club that helps make the step up from Amateur to becoming a professional. Starting there put an emphasis on my career.
Talking about Amateur football, how has it changed since then?
It is a difficult question in the sense that you look at what coaching methods are used. Amateur football (now) should be a lot closer to the professional standard but it is not.
The passion for the game has disappeared but as soon as it gets back the levels will improve. Supporters back then used to come down with their families and friends, which was vital in driving the players and is a missing link.
Which teammates at Vasco stood out for you?
There were quite a few who sort of helped me fit into the club. I mentioned Carlos Das Neves, who was the captain at the team and Mario Das Neves, who joined the club at a later stage. They had a huge impact along with Johnny De Sousa and plenty of others who came close to making it professional and some did reach it.
Lastly, a message for the current Vasco squad…
I am still a follower of Vasco. I am happy to be following them on Twitter and I am confident that they can push for promotion once again.
They must keep up the good work. What is important is that they have the quality in the coaching staff and in the team. They must just knuckle down and focus on the league… the players can do it. I will be supporting them all the way.