Johannesburg - He was and is still considered by many as much more than a coach and some even claimed he was a father figure, guardian, mentor, uncle, friend, brother and the last of the gentlemen of football.
Former SuperSport United and Jomo Cosmos coach Roy Matthews has finally decided to bow out of the game he had loved so passionately for more than five decades and will relocate to the tranquillity of the Eastern Cape town of East London.
Speaking on Wednesday, Matthews said he left Jomo Cosmos at the end of June and felt no regret but pride as he gave it his best throughout his career both as a player and a coach and now wanted to reunite with his wife who has left to stay in the Eastern Cape two years ago
Matthews has been a loyal servant of Arcadia Shepherds and Jomo Cosmos, the latter for nearly two decades and admitted on Wednesday that it had not been easy to say goodbye from a game he loved so much but he knew that it was time to let go and take a back seat.
“I worked for almost 20 years with Jomo Sono and he has become the family member who was why leaving him and the club was not that easy”, said Matthews. “I guess even when I mentioned that I was leaving for good he just did not believe me.”
“But in the end he realised I was dead serious and we shook hands and deep emotions went through as we recalled all the things we did together, the good and bad times as well as challenging times that we stood together but in the end, it was time to move on.”
Matthews was a losing finalists to Mamelodi Sundowns in the 1986 Mainstay Cup where he outplayed the star-studded Pretoria side only to lose through an own goal scored by Gregory Cupido with players like Julius Sono and Black Sunday Masegela to mention but two.
Together with Jomo Sono they discovered and nurtured raw amateurs and turned them into household names, players like Thomas Madigage, Pitso Mosimane, Sunday Masegela, Shakes Gwabeni, and Eric September as well as the adventurous Mark Fish who was converted from a striker to a defender.
Matthews recalls with pride so many players that came through his hands and yet refuses to take credit for helping nurture their talents. He claims that it was his duty as a coach to play his part otherwise men like Katlego Mphela, Augustine Makalakalane, Linda Buthelezi, Phil Masinga, Helman Mkhalele to mention just a few, seized the opportunities that were given to them and became successful professionals.
One of the highlights of his career was winning the league championship with Jomo Cosmos in 1987, beating favourites Kaizer Chiefs on the last day of the season. He claims that achievement will remain indelible in his memory.
He also remembers with pride the 1974 soccer season where he won the treble as a player with Arcadia Shepherd when he played as a midfielder alongside Stan Lapot and supplying the likes of Roy and Steve Wegerley.
Recently he has been involved in taking talented young boys as Head of the Cosmos Development to diverse countries like Norway, Ireland, Italy, France and Germany to participate in Youth tournaments was something he cherished.
Although he aims to pass on the baton, 70-year old Matthews hinted, though very subtly, that he could be involved in coaching young boys and aspiring coaches in and around East London where he hopes to retire for good.