Sundowns' 'Invisible man' has seen it all and says Pitso is the best
A veteran of 29 years in the game - 10 league championships, Caf Champions League gold and silver medals and Caf Super Cup winners' medal - Freddy Zungu has come a long way and seen it all in football.
The 55-year-old Mamelodi Sundowns kit manager has experienced countless ups and downs with his beloved club but his lowest point was in 1997, when he was riddled with seven bullets as he was dropping off Downs players in Soweto after training.
The assailants who nearly took his life were never brought to book and the motive and people behind the attack remain a mystery. But Zungu survived.
The man given the nickname of "Doza" by Joel "Fire" Masilela didn't want to talk much about the incident when he caught up with the Sunday Times at Chloorkop this week to reflect on his trophy-laden career.
"The club supported me immensely through that ordeal and some officials waited for me at the hospital until I was operated on. It was an emotional time for everyone close to me but thanks to God I made it and I am still here," said the father of three, who was born in Ga-Mmatshatsha village in Sekhukhune in Limpopo.
The long-serving kit manager, who arrived at the club as a volunteer in 1989, before Abe Krok gave him a full-time job as a driver the following year, is the proud owner of a trophy cabinet brimming with medals. Among his list of achievements is an appearance at the Fifa Club World Cup in Japan in 2016.
He was also the kit manager for the PSL XI team that was coached by Kosta Papic and Khabo Zondo when they lost 2-1 to Bafana Bafana in a friendly match that was played in 2006 in Durban.
"Ja, you can say that I have been around for a long time in football but I quickly learnt that it is not about me but the players and coaches," he said in an empty dressing room at Chloorkop.
"Coach Pitso Mosimane is the face of the club, with the spotlight on him and the players, and Zungu is happy to go about his daily business behind the scenes as the |"invisible man".
Zungu, who works with George Ndiniso, Thato Mashego, Sekapa Buthane and Solomon Litho, said since club president Patrice Motsepe took over the club in 2004, Sundowns had managed to end the dominance of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
"A lot of things have changed under president Motsepe because we have won the Champions League, the Super Cup, four league titles and played in the Fifa Club World Cup.
"On a personal level, my life has changed for the better," he said.
Over the years, Doza has worked under coaches like Stanley "Screamer" Tshabalala, Augusto "Njenje" Palacios, Clemens Westerhof, Djalma Cavalcante, Ted Dumitru, Paul Dolezar, Oscar Fullone, Angel Cappa, Miguel Gamondi, Antonio Habas, Neil Tovey, Gordon Igesund, Trott Moloto, Henri Michel, Hristo Stoichkov and Johan Neeskens.
"The best coach I've worked with is definitely Mosimane because of the success he has brought to the club and he is good in managing players," he said.
"We have worked together for many years and he was vocal as a player, like he is now."