When his boyhood club, Kaizer Chiefs, came knocking for his services at the age of 16, the news brought nothing but joy for Zakhele Lepasa.

However, the euphoria was short-lived. This was after Lepasa met up with coach Arthur Zwane, who was at the time coaching in the development structures of Chiefs.

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Zwane, now the head coach at Chiefs, felt reluctant including Lepasa in the Chiefs’ development set-up, as he deemed him “too small”.

The assessment and decision taken by Zwane left teenage Lepasa in pain. Since then, he has always felt like he had an axe to grind with Chiefs every time he played against them.

The Soweto-born star had been scouted by one of the youth coaches in the absence of Zwane. He was then invited to training the following day where he would meet Zwane.

“So, he calls me [when I arrived for training], and this guy is like, ‘okay, this is the boy’. And Arthur Zwane was like, ‘oh, this is him’.

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“I was short at the time, a bit skinny. He [Zwane] is like, ‘how old are you’? I’m like 16; he is like, ‘no, no no’. He didn’t even give me a chance to train,” Lepasa told FARPost.

However, Lepasa did not allow the news to discourage him.

The then 16-year-old Lepasa channelled all the hurt and pain and used it as motivation to improve his physic by trying to eat healthily and work out.

A year later, Lepasa was with Swallows. And again, the opportunity to play for his boyhood club presented itself.

This time at the Engen tournament. Zwane approached the youngster for his services, but Lepasa declined the opportunity as he believed his place at Swallows was secure.

At the time, Lepasa was a regular for the under-17 at Swallows.

But other than that, the grudge against Chiefs remained to a point where Lepasa made it his mandate to score against the Soweto giants every time he played against them.

“So, the grudge started there; that’s the only team [Chiefs] I wanted to play against them,” said Lepasa, who scored the only goal of the match when TS Galaxy shocked Amakhosi in the 2019 Nedbank Cup final.

“From Castle [League], every game I played against Chiefs from Castle, I scored, I made sure I scored.”

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Lepasa feels that if it weren’t for Chiefs’ rejection, then he wouldn’t have gotten the courage to change his lifestyle and improve his physique. And he wouldn’t be where he is right now.

However, the Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana striker says he has outgrown the grudge against Chiefs.


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