Keeper shares fond memories: Etafia on his time at Swallows

Johannesburg – Swallows’ longest-serving Nigerian international keeper, Greg Etafia, remembers that he was recruited to join Swallows by coach Gavin Hunt, who was leaving Black Leopards to join the Birds in 2002.

“I was in the Nigerian Olympics team at the time, I knew Pirates was a big team as they had won the C h amp i – ons League, beating the Ivory Coast’s Asec Mimosas,” said Etafia, who kept goals and later coached the Birds in his 16 years at Swallows.

“Coming to play in South Africa was a great opportunity for me and playing for one of the top teams and being part of the many Soweto derbies opened doors for me to become a regular in my national team.

“We used to look forward to the derby match. I used to mark the date on my calendar so as not to forget the big day. Three to two days before the derby match, there was no hard training, only light workouts, then the coaches would psyche us up as winners already, it was great.”

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Etafia recollects that Swallows legend Joel “Ace” Mnini would visit their camp on the eve of the derby to motivate them, instilling bigmatch temperament in them.

“In a derby, it could be against Pirates or Chiefs, form goes out of the window and it is all about the mindset,” remembers Etafia.

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