Much-travelled Brave Warriors versatile attacking midfielder Robert Nauseb played the bulk of his amazing professional football career for South African glamour football club Kaizer Chiefs.
The Namibian won several high-profile accolades with the Soweto giants before leaving Naturena for pastures green elsewhere in the South African Professional Soccer League (PSL) in a successful marathon career that saw him playing for no less than four clubs in the PSL.
A product of Orwetoweni outfit Black Marroko Chiefs (BMC) in his native Otjiwarongo, Nauseb, whose old man Helmuth ‘Yster’ Nauseb was a formidable no-nonsense hard-tackling defender for BMC, went on to cement his place as one of the most decorated players in the Brave Warriors Class of 98 before he was snapped up by Chiefs following his near-faultless display at the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Burkina Faso.
New Era Sport caught up with the Otjiwarongo-born lad as he relates his long and winding football journey that saw him play for multiple clubs in neighbouring South Africa.
Born Robert Cosmo Nauseb on 23 August 1974 in the northern town of Otjiwarongo to parents Helmuth ‘Yster’ Nauseb and Hedwig-Angela Nauses, the young Nauseb started chasing the ball during his formative years at the Versteende Woud primary school in Khorixas before retreating to Rogate elementary school in his hometown Otjiwarongo.
He continued playing football when he graduated to high school and was one of the finest talents for the Parisis secondary school football team. He also turned out for youthful hostel outfit Chicago. Nauseb then moved to the northeast town of Rundu to further his education at the Rundu Vocational Training Centre.
In between, the versatile midfielder would feature for boyhood team BMC during school holidays. His performances caught the eyes of talent scouts from Katutura giants Orlando Pirates, who dangled an irresistible juicy carrot in his face to exchange Otjiwarongo for the city of bright lights (Windhoek).
Pirates have a long-standing history of luring the finest talent from their unofficial feeder team (BMC), having previously smooth-talked football greats such as Ananias ‘Bigman’ Nanuseb, Mannfredt Uxamb, Gottfriedt ‘Leva’ Awaseb, and Lukas ‘Fly’ Namaseb to jump ship and find refuge in the comfort of their smooth-sailing yacht.
After a few outstanding performances for Pirates, ambitious Khomasdal outfit Civics came knocking on the door for his signature. Nauseb duly obliged and willingly left Pirates to find a new home with the exciting youthful Bethlehem Boys.
Befittingly nicknamed ‘Baggio’ after Italian football legend and Juventus attacker Roberto Baggio, Nauseb was your typical box-to-box midfielder, possessing all the required attributes of a complete athlete and was loved by everyone who understood football dynamics, including rival fans.
It was not long before he was called up for the senior national football team – the Brave Warriors – and never looked back.
In 1997, the Brave Warriors touched down at the Robert Mugabe International Airport in Harare for a Fifa World Cup eliminator against hosts Zimbabwe. In attendance was the head coach of South African professional outfit Hellenic Gavin Hunt and his brother-in-law John Byrne.
The pair came to Zimbabwe to run an eye over the hard-galloping Namibian midfielder but instead ended up signing Zimbabwean forward Taya Murewa, a medical doctor by profession.
As much as the author tried every trick in the book of tricks to convince the pair who happened to stay with me in the same establishment – the Monamotapa Hotel – to sign Nauseb’s compatriot Mohammed ‘Slice’ Ouseb, my plea fell on deaf ears.
Hunt eventually conceded his grave error of judgment when we bumped into each other at the Ramblers Clubhouse when he came to Windhoek to sign Henrico Botes.
Nonetheless, Nauseb went on to play a pivotal role in the Brave Warriors’ amazing run for qualification to the Afcon finals in Burkina Faso in 1998, to the extent that he was offered a professional contract by South African glamour Football Club Kaizer Chiefs, alongside compatriot Ouseb.
The BMC protégé hit the ground running, excelling under the stewardship of Turkish mentor Muhsin Ertugral, pulling the strings in the middle of the park alongside the legendary Theofelus ‘Doctor’ Khumalo, Lawrence Thabo Mooki, and dribbling wizard Jeremiah Jabu ‘Shuffle’ Pule-Mahlangu.
Nauseb made his debut for Chiefs in a 1-2 defeat against Bloemfontein Celtics but did enough to cement a permanent starting berth in the star-studded Chiefs line-up.
He won several top competitions with Chiefs in the following sequence: Rothmans Cup, Vodacom Challenge, Iwisa Cup, and BP Top 8.
However, a profoundly-upsetting episode unfolded when the free-scoring midfielder had a fallout with Brave Warriors’ Romanian-born gaffer, the late Theodore ‘Ted’ Dumitru, who gave him his marching orders.
The player was subsequently suspended from national duty after the altercation with the volatile coach. Though it has not been said loudly, it’s commonly believed that the vengeful Romanian abused his good relationship with Chiefs honcho Kaizer Motaung to badmouth Nauseb.
It is whispered in the gossip corridors that the late Dumitru, in a desperate vindictive mood to pay Nauseb back in his own coin, fabricated a falsified narrative about the player being a serial drug addict and that resulted in Nauseb ending ties with Chiefs.
Nauseb was subsequently shipped out to Cape Town outfit Hellenic, before sporadic stints with Ajax Cape Town, Bloemfontein Celtic, and Ikapa Sporting.
Capped 57 times for the country and scoring an astonishing tally of seven goals at international level, the now-retired footie still cherishes some of the highlights of his flawless football career.
“Eish, there were so many great games with Chiefs but one particular match that springs to mind is our clash against Supersport United at the Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg; I scored the winning goal,” he said.
“I will also never forget the decisive PSL match against Mamelodi Sundowns whilst playing for relegation-threatened Ajax Cape Town at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria. We needed a draw to avoid relegation, and I gallantly rose to the challenge, scoring a stunning goal to level matters.”
On a lighter note, there was a very unpleasant funny moment when Nauseb and his compatriot Ouseb, who shared accommodation at the club’s village in Naturena, invited local lasses to their modest two-room flat.
The two beauties were making moves on how to wangle moolah out of their unsuspecting hosts, gossiping conveniently in Afrikaans, not knowing that both Nauseb and Ouseb could speak and understand Afrikaans.
After listening attentively to the lasses’ ill-intended plans, the Namibians began to communicate by speaking in Afrikaans, much to the embarrassment of their two guests. And guess what? Well, it was game over!
Upon retirement from playing competitive football, Nauseb turned his hand to coaching. He was employed as assistant coach at South African lower league outfit FC Cape Town, before spells with Rygerdale (2nd team coach), and head coach of Wits University (junior under-17 team).
Back home, Nauseb experienced short-lived coaching stints with coastal giants Eleven Arrows, Katutura glamour football club African Stars, and of course, occupying the portfolio of Brave Warriors’ assistant head coach.
Nauseb is an elder brother to the equally-talented football-playing siblings Lesley, Chris and Milton Nauseb, who all cut their teeth in the country’s topflight football league with different elite clubs.