Troussier once angrily threw bread rolls at Kaizer Chiefs players‚ reveals Tovey

FILE PHOTO: Steve Lekoelea of Orlando Pirates tussles with Kaizer Chiefs defender Neil Tovey during Absa Premiership encounter at FNB Stadium on 13 February 1999.
FILE PHOTO: Steve Lekoelea of Orlando Pirates tussles with Kaizer Chiefs defender Neil Tovey during Absa Premiership encounter at FNB Stadium on 13 February 1999.
Image: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images

Neil Tovey has related how Philippe Troussier once threw bread rolls at three Kaizer Chiefs players when the combustible Frenchman coached Amakhosi in 1994.

The story‚ as related in Bafana Bafana and Chiefs legend Tovey’s new autobiography‚ Neil Tovey‚ A Captain’s Journey‚ gives insight into why Troussier could not last more than a year at Chiefs when the “White Witchdoctor” arrived with much fanfare from huge success in West Africa.

The incident also sheds light on some of the temper tantrums Troussier later had with Bafana players when he was hired to take the national team to the 1998 World Cup.

“The coach’s English wasn’t great and he often struggled to get his point across. That’s when he started gesturing a lot‚” Tovey relates in his book.

“ … He would lose his temper quickly and shout loudly‚ something that didn’t go down well with a lot of players‚ especially Doctor Khumalo‚ who hated getting yelled at.

“ … When a coach comes from another country‚ it’s crucial that he understand the culture of the country he is working in. … Troussier also didn’t get the sensitive political situation at the time.

“For example‚ while trying to make a point about something‚ he once remarked‚ ‘Mandela is big for you‚ but not for me.’ To some black players he was like the blanke baas (white boss) of the old apartheid system.”

Tovey describes how it was ahead of a BP Top 8 clash against Umtata Bush Bucks in Port Elizabeth “when Troussier really got the players agitated”.

Troussier moved the pre-match meal from 11am to 10.30am‚ and three players sharing a hotel room – Khumalo‚ Jacob Tshisevhe and Gardner Seale missed the notification‚ so arrived late.

“We were eating when the waiter came in with a basket of extra Portuguese rolls. Doctor took a few and the Frenchman blew up‚” Tovey relates.

“He stood up‚ grabbed the basket‚ and threw the rolls at Jacob‚ Gardner and Doctor. They were covered in flour.

“We were disgusted by the coach’s antics and wondered why we should play the game. There is a difference between being angry and showing disrespect.

“This happened in February – very early in the Frenchman’s tenure. As I remember [Chiefs owner] Kaizer Motaung’s son Bobby was the team manager‚ and mediated between the coach and the players.

“We were upset. We all said‚ ‘This is out of order!’ The team didn’t want to play and told management‚ ‘This guy is a maniac.’

“Eventually Troussier apologised for his behaviour and we played the match … .”

Later‚ when Troussier was Bafana coach‚ he left Tovey out of his squad for the 1998 World Cup in France.

Tovey‚ now the SA Football Association’s technical director‚ relates how years later‚ in 2017‚ the coach admitted to the former player‚ “I should have selected you”.

Neil Tovey‚ A Captain’s Journey‚ as told to former journalist and current Chiefs research and publishing manager Ernest Landheer‚ is published by Penguin Books.

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