Patrick Maswanganyi | First Interview

Whenever a new season comes along, excitement runs rampant as supporters and experts alike speculate about the potential comings and goings of players from their beloved clubs. 

In this era of technology and instant information, it seems increasingly challenging for teams to keep their dealings under wraps, with rumours spreading like wildfire across social media platforms. But amidst all the noise and chatter, there is one player whose signing took many by complete surprise.

Patrick Maswanganyi has been at the club for just over two weeks and he has hit the road running – scoring two goals, in the Clubs’ last two friendly matches against Maccabi Tel Aviv and Independiente del Valle.

His stellar performances in these two friendly matches have set tongues wagging amongst the Ghost. 

Orlandopiratesfc.com managed to sit down with the 25-year-old for his first interview as a Buccaneer. Born and raised in Tembisa, the man who is also affectionately known as Tito, recounts his earliest memories as a footballer playing Mighty Tigers, enrolling with the Stars of Africa Football Academy and eventually playing for UD Oliveirense in Portugal. 

Who is Patrick and how would you describe yourself to people who have not interacted with you?

PM: Patrick Hosi Maswanganyi is a young man who grew up in Tembisa and like most young boys from the township I was raised by my grandmother and grandfather. My mother was there but it is my grandmother who played an indelible role in my upbringing. 

I would describe myself as a reserved and shy person who does not really talk much. I love playing football and I have been playing ever since I can remember. I am happy that I have been given an opportunity reach my dreams through football which is my passion. 

Today, I am a Buccaneer which holds a special place in my heart because this is a team that my family supported growing up.

You say that your family supported Orlando Pirates. What about you? Are you also part of the ghost?

PM: Honestly, I was not a fan of any particular team. I loved playing football and only that. But if I had to support a team, there’s no question [laughs]. Because back home it was black and white…. the passion that my grandparents had for the club was too great to ignore.

You mentioned that you started playing football at a very young age. Which teams were you playing for? Where were you playing? Tell us about that experience. 

PM: Honestly, I do not think I would be where I am today because when I was growing up I encountered a lot of difficulties as a result of coming from a poor background. There are periods when I did not have soccer boots, this discouraged me from going to practice and going to games because I did not want to be a burden to other people.

When I was young I played for a team called Mighty Tigers. Our coach also did not have much, to make things worse he was handicapped and in a wheelchair. Despite this he pushed us to continue and the little that he had he contributed it back to the team. 

Things started to change when I went to Stars of Africa Football Academy and it is there that I saw that perhaps it could be possible for me to play professionally. I was super motivated because I saw this as an opportunity for me to change the situation at home. 

How has being a professional footballer changed your life and the lives of those around you? What are some of the challenges that you have faced in your journey as a footballer?

PM: Besides the lack of resources that I mentioned earlier there have not been many challenges. When I moved to play in Portugal in 2019, I had to adapt to their ways of doing things. At first the language question was a huge stumbling block and thereafter I had to quickly learn their style of playing. This coupled with the fact that I am a very quiet guy made it even more difficult for me to adjust. 

Since I have returned to the country things have been much easier and my experience in Portugal has taught me a lot. I learnt to open up more, to interact with my team mates because communication is an integral part of what unifies a team. Actually, what has really been my struggle ever since I started playing football is my difficulty to communicate but it something that I am dealing with and I am getting better. 

Did you pick up the language when you were in Portugal?

PM: *Responds in Portuguese and then laughs. * 

You played in Portugal and then came back to South Africa to play for a team as big as Orlando Pirates. How are you finding the transition from playing in Europe and then coming back to play in South Africa?

PM: When I came back to South Africa I had a lot of doubt in myself because I had hoped to play in Europe a bit longer. You know, it is every young footballer’s dream to play in Europe. But I had to come back and perhaps that was the source of the self-doubt I was experiencing. I was really afraid. I even went to tell my grandmother that I am thinking of quitting because I thought I was not capable of playing good football anymore. But when I started playing in the Premier League things started to change, I realised that I still do have football. From there I kept a positive attitude and started working extremely hard in training. 

Another thing is that it was out of my imagination that I would be playing for Orlando Pirates this season. I did not know that the team wanted me and that I was going to go play for it. I was really shocked but also proud of myself. I am happy that I am with Orlando Pirates and I am motivated to work even harder than before. I understand that opportunities such as this one are hard to get but very easy to lose. I intend on giving it my best such that even if I fail I know that I have given it my all. My focus now is on improving and learning. 

What does it mean for you to play for Orlando Pirates and what do you hope to contribute to the team?

PM: Playing for the team means a lot. Orlando Pirates is not just any club. It is not only big in the country but also in the continent. The team has a rich history and I also want to be a part of that history by assisting the club win more trophies. I want to score goals for the team, more so because I have not scored any goal since I started playing in the DStv Premiership. 

What are some of the long term aspirations that you have as a footballer. What do you want to achieve for yourself? How do you think Orlando Pirates will help you achieve those goals?

PM: Being at Orlando Pirates is going to be a big boost for me and my career. I have always had ambitions of playing and competing in the CAF Champions League. I also want to play for one of the big teams in Europe and I believe that playing for Orlando Pirates will equip me with the necessary skills to achieve that dream.

How would you describe your playing style and who are some of the key inspirations that you have as a player.

PM: I really enjoy watching Martin Ødegaard who plays for Arsenal, I think he plays really well. Most of the time I try to emulate his style, particularly how he is able to find space in the pockets and how he turns and positions himself. I really admire his style of play. 

How did you get the nickname Tito?

PM: My grandmother gave me the name Tito. I do not know why she called me that. Everyone calls me Tito, I was hardly called Patrick when I was growing up. The name just stuck with me and I did not question it.  

Thank you for your time, Tito, we wish you all the best this season.

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