Johannesburg - Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Teko Modise has paid tribute to coach Pitso Mosimane for the role he has played in rejuvenating his career.
Modise has been superb under Mosimane’s guidance this season and the veteran playmaker feels his coach has succeeded in galvanising Sundowns into a grounded unit, determined to do whatever it takes to win the Premiership.
“With a coach like Pitso, trust me, it’s not a choice - you are going to be grounded,” Modise said on Monday.
“He’s the kind of coach who is very ambitious, he’s very driven and he pushes everyone to do their job.
“We know the pressure we’re under at Sundowns. For so many years, we haven’t done the team justice, so this is an opportunity for us.”
Modise began his career in the country’s top-tier under Mosimane at SuperSport United in 2006, before moving onto Orlando Pirates, where he was named Footballer of the Year in 2008 and 2009.
The pair’s working relationship was cut short after Modise moved to Pirates, but was kept alive while Mosimane was involved initially as an assistant, and then head coach of Bafana Bafana between 2006 and 2012.
But a fallout between Modise and his Pirates boss, Ruud Krol, resulted in the 31-year-old departing for Sundowns in 2011, where Mosimane later joined and, 22 months later, the pair were reunited.
Despite a stellar career in which Modise has earned over 50 caps for Bafana, appearing in the 2010 Fifa World Cup, the 2009 Confederations Cup and numerous World Cup qualifiers between 2007 and 2012, Modise has never lifted a Premiership title and is set for his first major trophy under his long-time mentor.
“I’m grateful for my career. I’ve done so much and I’ve played so many games. I wouldn’t change anything in my career,” Modise said.
“I’ve been in unfortunate situations where I don’t win [the league] at the last game -- it’s one of those things that I can’t control.
“I’m not going to focus on anything beyond that, I’m just going to do my best and do my job as a footballer.”
Having had a number of detractors throughout his career for a perceived lack of success domestically, Mosimane had no doubt about the character of his “most important player” who helped set in motion a campaign to win Sundowns’ first league title in seven years.
“Teko has been fortunate and he’s been blessed in football. He can retire very well, he’s played football at his best,” Mosimane said.
“Teko is always in top shape, he’s in top condition and sometimes we don’t give him credit for that.
“A few weeks back I told him, ‘with my experience, you will win something this year. If you don’t win something, it means you didn’t work hard enough to win something'."
Mosimane spoke fondly of his time working with Modise, jokingly describing his intimate knowledge of the player.
“I’ve worked with Teko ever since he came to the Premiership until today. I’ve never been away from him, whether at Bafana, or Sundowns or SuperSport,” Mosimane said.
“I know who he is, I know where he has come from and I’ve seen his career growing. When he was on top of his game at Bafana, I was there.
“There is no way he can dodge me - I know everything about him. I’ve seen him on his worst day, I’ve seen him on his best day.”