Luso Legend: Craig le Grange

Luso Legend: Craig le Grange
Pic supplied by Gallo Images

Ex-Vasco da Gama goalkeeper Craig le Grange looks back at a career which also included spells at Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns.

Craig, please tell us how did you landed up at Vasco da Gama?
It was through Sergio dos Santos. He recruited me from Durbanville back in 1986/87.

How was your time with Vasco?
It was fantastic, we were probably the best amateur team back then. We won almost everything; our whole core of the team was fantastic with Sergio.

So many Cape Town legends came out of that squad and that was pretty much the start for me. With Vasco it was pretty much a case of turning up and the results were already there.

What was Sergio like as coach?
He was the master mind behind everything. He got all the players to play together, play quality football and play ahead of our time. He is a legend.

Vasco have had a string of good goalkeepers. Why do you think this is?
They have had some good ones. Andre Arendse of course is the one everyone knows, he was a different class.

I think we were very spoilt in that we always had a quality pitch and training facilities, which made it easy for us to dive. I don’t know how or why Vasco were able to produce them but Andre sticks out.

How would you describe yourself as a goalkeeper?
Nothing flashy. I was consistent at what I did and the players knew what they would get out of me. I always caught and held onto the ball… I had to do what I had to do.

I would say I was like a typical English goalkeeper; I came out at crosses, was good at my positional play and I came for the ball. I did the basics.

Where did you go from there?
Sergio helped me in my move to Kaizer Chiefs, where I played with Gary Bailey and William Shongwe. Obviously I didn’t get enough game time playing under Bailey, so I went to [Mamelodi] Sundowns. I played there for six or seven seasons and won almost everything.

From there I went to Manning Rangers and AmaZulu in Durban before coming back to Cape Town, so I did a full circle.

Can you tell us any funny stories?
This one is more embarrassing. I was playing against Hellenic in the BP Top Eight semi-final and we were giving Hellenic a football lesson – we were about two or three goals up.

I turned around to the fans behind the goals and started chanting and dancing at them, only for a Hellenic player to kick a ball over my head and into the goals. [Laughs]. It was very unprofessional and a hard lesson learnt.

What are the important lessons for a goalkeeper to learn?
Concentration is everything, even when you are dominating you just have that lapse in a split second and everything can change.

I never really enjoyed the games I played because as a goalkeeper you are always under pressure; one mistake can cost you. After the game though, when you sit back and looked at the game, you realize how you contributed and got through the game. Then you enjoy it more.

Who was the toughest player you came up against?
There would be two strikers in Shane McGregor and Shawn Bester.

Nationally I would say Shane as he was very clever, but locally Shawn was uncanny. He had such composure and I always had to be alert.