SoccerLaduma (SL) : Hi, Peter! It’s great to have you on SoccerLaduma’s pages, as we know many of our readers relish the opportunity of hearing from you?
PeterShalilule (PS) : I give glory to God for making it possible for me to be here.
SL: Your club, Mamelodi Sundowns, was good at possibly finishing the season unbeaten. You guys hoped you would go the entire campaign without a defeat, which has never been done in the Premier Soccer League (PSL)…
PS: Any team can get beaten, my brother – and you can also lose at any given time. I always say God knows whether you will be beaten or not. Also, top teams can go on such a run and then they get beaten, so this is not new. Our focus was really not on that because we knew what our target was and we continued working hard.
SL: What does it mean to win the league title with Sundowns?
PS: It is a great achievement because it is the first time to win a trophy with a team that I joined not too long ago. It’s a blessing and it means a lot to me. We focused on ourselves, although Amazulu was on our necks.
SL: How would you describe the way the team, as a whole, performed this season?
PS: The overall performance this season has been excellent, but we are still learning as a team and we still want to be better than we have been. All in all, I would say we did well as a team. We were knocked out of the Nedbank Cup, but there was nothing we could do. We had to look forward and focus on the league and CAF Champions League.
SL: Moving on to you as an individual, you have had a stellar season. Do you ever feel the need to pinch yourself when you look at where you are now and how your first season went with Sundowns?
PS: Where we are is due to the hard work the team has put in, you understand? Personally, at the start, I did not expect this – but eventually, with the work the club has put in and the work that I have also put in, it ended up being what it is with the performances and all that.
SL: Why do you think you were able to settle in so quickly to live at Sundowns’ base, Chloorkop?
PS: To be honest, it’s the technical team, and I also have to give credit to my teammates because they kept encouraging and motivating me each day. Every day, I learned something. When you are on the field, they teach you and when you are off the field, they encourage you to keep going.
SL: How different is the coaching you are getting from the one you were receiving when you were at Highland Park?
PS: Not to say the other coaches were not good, but I always say this team’s mindset is different, you know. They only want the best from their players and they invest their time and energy just to make sure a player is at his best. It’s a place where you come and learn. You come and learn to improve and you come to win things. The people here are experienced, and they are on another level. It’s a place where when it’s time to work, you work.
SL: You have been able to click very well with the likes of Themba Zwane, Gaston Sirino, Kermit Erasmus and Lebohang Maboe.
PS: I found good players when I got here and they make things look easy, so clicking with them is very easy because they guide you. I have been guided by Erasmus; I have been guided by Zwane. There is a lot of great players here at Sundowns and they have been helping me a lot.
SL: Why did you decide to join Sundowns?
PS: To win trophies, my brother – and take my football to another level. To be honest, that’s every player’s dream – to win trophies. All I want to do is improve and help the team in any way I can help. Playing in the CAF Champions League is also another level. Joining Sundowns gives you an opportunity to play there. I’m finally there and I’m trying my best to help the team.
SL: You were highly rated at Highlands Park and club director Larry Brookstone mentioned that you were worth N$30 million. Did you feel you were worth that much?
PS: It is football and anyone can put a price tag on you. If you feel you are worth that price, then you are. I did not know about being worth that much, but now I know that it is possible for anyone to be worth N$30 million. But for me, that does not even trigger me. I just play football because I don’t have time for those things of knowing how much your worth is.
SL: Does this show how much your previous club valued you?
PS: Yes, they rated me highly – just like everyone at Highlands Park. That’s how it was. You must remember they are the ones who brought me to South Africa and I learnt a lot while I was there – not only in terms of football but also with things outside of life. I had a good time there, but I had to move on. It was a good place for me to start in South Africa – everyone has to start somewhere.
SL: It was the first time you were playing in the CAF Champions League but you made it look like you have been playing on that stage for years. How was the experience like?
PS: It’s good playing there and I’m used to playing in the national team and playing against some of the top teams on the continent, so it’s good and helpful. Also, I’m at a club that has won this competition and they are used to it, so they mould me and tell me to do the right things, and I’m doing them.
SL: Has it taken your game to another level?
PS: Yes, because it’s not the same as playing in the PSL. There, it is tougher.
SL: What are your three coaches, Manqoba Mngqithi‚ Rulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela, bringing to the team and your game?
PS: Everyone has their own way of bringing things to the team. They have different characteristics, but they are good characteristics for the team. Each of them has their own way of bringing something to the team.
SL: You joined Sundowns at the time when Pitso Mosimane had just left for Al Ahly. Were you not worried when he left and do you remember what was going through your mind at the time?
PS: No, I can’t remember what was going through my mind. I was not worried about that. I just went to Sundowns to my job. I’m happy with my performances and I know I can still improve.
SL: You were recently linked with a move to Al Ahly. How much do you know about this?
PS: I don’t focus on such things, my brother. If a club wants you, they will go directly to the team itself – not the player. I don’t know much about that; it’s just something I heard. I don’t even read those things.
SL: Opposition defenders obviously know your strength, but despite that, you keep scoring week in and out. Why do you think that is?
PS: When you have people behind you who are quality, they make things easy. The midfielders make things look easy. They are there to assist a player. I’m playing around quality players, so they make things look easy. That’s why I make sure I’m at the right place at the right time in the box and I try to make sure that with any opportunity that comes, I score. I feel that my finishing can still improve.
SL: Recently, Soccerladuma ran a feature on you and coach Owen da Gama spoke about how your hard work sets you apart from other players, saying you will miss 10 chances, but you will always get that goal. What do you feel sets you apart from others?
PS: I don’t give up, my brother; that’s how I can sum it up. It comes from home. I was always told by my mother to never give up wherever you are in life because you never know how close you are to succeeding. So, I don’t give up. My family is proud and happy.
SL: It sounds like your family has played a big role in your career…
PS: They have pushed me and have always encouraged me not to give up. There was nothing else in terms of school and so on. There was only football, so they encouraged me when I wanted to give up. They kept pushing me.
SL: How has football helped you to give back to them?
PS: I’m at Sundowns now, but I have always helped them in terms of things I have to do at home. They are the first people I look up to. When I get something, I make sure they are satisfied or that they are happy.
SL: In that feature, coach Thiery Mulonzo mentioned that you only bought a car when you joined Sundowns. So, all this time you did not have a car?
PS: I’m not into those things, my brother; I’m not into the life of buying fancy things. I’m just a normal person who is used to staying like that.
SL: How were you surviving without a car?
PS: I was surviving because I don’t go around; I was okay. I’m a person who stays indoors. That’s just who I am. There is nothing out there. Also, because I play football, I must be focused at all times and get enough rest. So for me, I don’t see anything that is out there. For other people, they can see that, but not me.
SL: What finally convinced you to get a car?
PS: Training is now a bit far; that’s why I got a car. I don’t want to waste money buying unnecessary things. I was taught back home not to play with money. At the end of the day, I say life is unpredictable and you don’t know where you will end up.
SL: It was mentioned by Tapuwa Kapini that your father was in the military, how much of a role has your father played in terms of discipline in your life?
PS: A lot, my brother – in terms of how you treat people. You must treat people with respect; you must do things in a neat way. When you work, you must always make sure you give it your best. So, he taught me all those things. He is one of the biggest influences in my life.
SL: Is this why you always have your shirt tucked in?
PS: It is discipline. Always be neat; that’s what I have learnt.
SL: Do you see yourself as a contender for this weekend’s PSL Footballer of the Season award?
PS: Eish, I will leave it up to the people to choose for that award, and I will leave it up to God. A lot of people deserve that award, so at the end of the day, it will be up to God’s will.
SL: Thank you so much for your time, man.
PS: Thank you.