My uncle forced me to ditch boxing and rugby, says Mayo

Kaizer Chiefs legend reminisces about glory days

06 November 2023 - 08:06
By Koketso Ratsatsi
Patrick Mayo during the Telkom Knockout match between Silver Stars and Kaizer Chiefs at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.
Image: GALLO IMAGES Patrick Mayo during the Telkom Knockout match between Silver Stars and Kaizer Chiefs at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.

If it wasn’t for his uncle, retired footballer Patrick Mayo would have turned out to be a boxer or rugby player.

Mayo, a former Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana player, says growing up, he mostly enjoyed and frequented boxing rings with his peers and played rugby during his primary school days.

But, he says his uncle Mthetheleni Mayo had other plans for him.

“Because he was a footballer, he felt like I should also become one, but it took me some time to finally give in and join a club he used to play for a club called Young Chiefs FC. 

“I preferred to watch Amakhosi on the small screen, not play for Young Chiefs. He used to beat me up for missing football sessions. When the team was playing and I chose to run away, he would tell me football is more of my calling, and that I ‘must stop this boxing nonsense’,” Mayo recalls. 

The 50-year-old, who was born in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, decided to give in and joined Young Chiefs in 1998.

“He saw the talent when I could not and believed in me before I even realised what I was capable of. I was still very young, I decided it was also time to quit boxing and rugby at some point and focus. I thought there might be something there.”

He says it was the best decision he had ever taken because he never saw Chiefs’ offer for him to join the club coming at some point in his career. The call came when he was a SuperSport United player.

“I went to play for Bush Bucks and then SuperSport in 2000. I stayed for three seasons there. Then Bobby Motaung called me to hear if I could be a player at Chiefs but I wondered if it was really him,” he says. 

“It felt like I was dreaming. I could not even believe it was him speaking to me. I didn’t tell anyone at home about what was going on. He invited me to come to their offices the following day to discuss my contract.

“I was then given a contract and told to decide the next day. I came back with the contact signed and sealed and that’s when I told everyone close to me because it was now a sure thing.” 

Mayo says what might have attracted Chiefs to him was the fact that he would score against the club every time they faced each other and his ability to be defender, midfielder and striker – all at the same time.

“As a defender, I can say I don’t have an own goal. So I would at times score a goal and then goal back and give strikers trouble. I would make sure the goals didn’t go in. My first match was against Dynamos, it was 9am at FNB Stadium [in Nasrec, Johannesburg] and I remember I had goosebumps. It was so packed to capacity and I was feeling pressure because I didn’t want to let anyone down since I was new.

“Playing at Kaizer Chiefs was always great and felt like you are playing for the national team because the stadium was always full. Whether we are playing away or home, it didn’t matter. We would make sure we win cups. Unlike the club now, every team that plays against Chiefs knows that it can easily get three points out of the game,” he says. 

Mayo says the best recipe for them at the time was to win trophies not for the money. He believes it will take a lot to bring Amakhosi back to glory.

“The club made sure to buy only quality players. Chiefs didn’t care how much the player they wanted cost, they would buy you if you were at another club just so you can join them. We were all competitive. Now there is a lot of money in football but the performance is low.”

Mayo has two sons – Khanyisa, 25, and Khanyisile, 24 – who are following in his footsteps.

He says he is not surprised that his boys are claiming their spot in the industry because he would take them to every game. 

“I am blessed because it’s very rare for children to follow in their father’s footsteps, particularly when it’s in football. Whenever I had to play, I would take their mother and them to come watch me. That would make me perform better because I knew that they were there, counting on me, just by showing moral support,” says Mayo.

Khanyisa currently plays as a forward at Cape Town City and like his father, he has been capped in the national team.

“As you can see, Khanyisa has made a name for himself so far. Khanyisa is a striker, Khanyisile a winger.

“It was always unbelievable to play for Bafana. I had the best moments of my life. All the travelling I did and the joy of representing my country was the best thing,” he says. 

Mayo hopes to one day have a football club where he can also empower the young ones because he believes that if his children can do it, so can anyone who dreams of becoming a footballer.