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MBABANE – He has won almost everything a local footballer in the country could dream of. Approaching the late stages of his trophy laden career, Tony Tsabedze, the inspirational Mbabane Swallows and Sihlangu captain is showing no signs of slowing down.

Coming from humble beginnings, representing Manzini Nazarene High in the schools ball games, the left footed winger was already a hit at the ‘School of Excellence’ that was Mhlambanyatsi Rovers, led by renowned mentor Gcina ‘Magiyane’ Dlamini.

At Rovers, he played with the cream of the crop that had a majority of the players going on to represent the country at national level or making a big impression on the international stage. Names like Lwazi ‘Zidane’ Maziya, Manqoba ‘Dunga’ Kunene, Mfanzile ‘Fash’ Dlamini, Mduduzi ‘Aghahowa’ Mdluli, Sifiso ‘Mangweni’ Zwane and Mpendulo ‘Biano’ Kunene come to mind. The list is endless.

Rovers were not called the ‘evergreen boys’ for nothing, going on to win the 2011/12 MTN League crown in spectacular fashion.
For Tony, it was a step towards big things in his blossoming career, signing for South African giants Supersport United before stints with Maritzburg United and Santos among other sides. When he returned later, he was not done with his career, collecting trophies by a bucketful at current club Mbabane Swallows but he still maintains that being a ‘Sports Star of the Year’ definitely tops them all.

Two weeks ago at the inaugural National Sports Awards, the tricky winger was voted the best sportsman of the year in a glittering event held at Royal Swazi Convention Centre and we tied him down to a one-on-one interview…  

Times: What has been your motivation in your career and have you ever thought as a youngster you will play professionally and for Sihlangu?
Tony Tsabedze: The winning mentality has been the motivation throughout my career and I have been lucky enough to play for ambitious teams.

Times: Who do you attribute your success to?
Tony Tsabedze: A lot of people have contributed in my career from development, where I started as a youngster and I’m still learning now. So I’m grateful to all those people and will never forget their contribution.
Times: Who is your role model and who is your favourite player currently and internationally?

Tony Tsabedze: My role model has always been Rosicky (Arsenal), though I do idolise Messi (Barcelona).
Times: What can you say to upcoming youngsters who would like to emulate you?

Tony Tsabedze: For the upcoming to be successful, they need to work hard, respect and know their attitude will determine their altitude.
Times: You have won a lot of trophies personally and at team level, would you say being named Sports Star of the Year tops them all?
Tony Tsabedze: Being Sports Star of the Year should definitely top them all; the recognition means a lot, anything else comes after it and most importantly, it will encourage other players to give their best. I’m grateful to my teammates and the national team, if it wasn’t for them, I would have not won the award.

Times: How does your daily training routine and diet look like?
Tony Tsabedze: My daily routine is training twice a day, and I try to eat as healthy as I can as a footballer.
Times: How many years are left in your team and national team career?
Tony Tsabedze: I can’t really say when I would stop playing but the minute my legs feel they can’t carry me anymore, I will stop with the national team, time will tell.  

Times: As captain, would you say Sihlangu are headed the right direction under Pieter de Jongh?
Tony Tsabedze: I wouldn’t comment much on whether we are on the right direction or not but every coach comes with his different philosophy and it takes time for players to adjust and adapt to what the coach wants.  
Times: What do you want to achieve with Swallows in next year’s CAF Champions League?
Tony Tsabedze: The team would love to move one more step from what we achieved last time around and we believe we are capable of doing that.
Times: Thank you so much Tsabedze for your time. Keep going and pushing.
Tony Tsabedze: My pleasure Sabza. You also keep informing the nation my friend.

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