Former Bafana Bafana star striker Shaun Bartlett was once a Vasco da Gama player. This is his story.
How did you arrive at Vasco’s youth ranks?
I first had a trial at Cape Town Spurs. They told me they wanted to sign me but that I had to go to Vasco before in order to help me develop. I spent a good 4 to 6 months there.
How would you describe your time there?
It was awesome. At Vasco it was the first taste of what it meant to be in a more professional set-up. At Cape Town Spurs everything was run properly in their set-up. I had a lot of people who helped me settle in and there was a lot of passionate people around.
What were your best memories at the club?
I would say scoring lots of goals and getting far in one of the cup tournaments. As a striker you always want to score goals. It was a short stint but filled with success.
You went onto various clubs locally and overseas, how did Vasco prepare you for it?
If they, CT Spurs, hadn’t sent me to Vasco to develop and learn I wouldn’t have learnt the fundamental basics which helped me in my development in playing locally, overseas and in the National squad.
Who was the teammate you had the best partnership with?
It is quite ironic but I would say Thabo Mngomeni. He wasn’t a striker as such but more of a midfielder; we had a great combination and chemistry on the field. We understood each other well and then we moved to CT Spurs together where he flourished there and enjoyed success.
Being a striker you came across many tough defenders in your time, who was the toughest?
I would say that it would have to be someone from England because there they are always kicking at your heels. John Terry would be it. He is very physical, in your face defender and a good header of the ball. No striker likes that so I had to take care of that when coming up against him.
You are now coaching at Golden Arrows, what lessons from your career can you now implement to the boys?
I didn’t come back to South Africa to finish my career, I came back to instill the experience I learnt abroad to help in players’ development. It is to give back to the younger generation the knowledge I gained and to pass it on down to the younger players for their development. I am at Golden Arrows to do that.