Sipho Mngomezulu has been doing exactly that for Moroka Swallows since the club came to his rescue last month.
“After what Swallows did for me, the least I can do is give my best to ensure they stay up,” Mngomezulu says unflinchingly.
It’s very late on Wednesday night at the Dobsonville Stadium and the Swallows players are filing out of the dressing room, their faces adorned with big smiles following a 2-0 victory over Black Leopards courtesy of a Vuyisile Wana brace.
The win has put the Birds level on three points with the Limpopo outfit atop the three-team Promotional Play-Offs that also include Jomo Cosmos.
One of the key performers for the Birds on the night was Mngomezulu, the bow-legged wing-back who defended solidly and initiated many Swallows counter-attacks, with either a foray up the flank or a pinpoint delivery to find Siyabonga Nomvethe up front.
It is something he has been doing with some aplomb since Swallows literally saved his career by signing him on a short-term contract when nobody else would.
Having fallen out of favour with Gavin Hunt at Bidvest Wits, a club he had called home for donkey’s years in two stints interrupted by single seasons at all of SuperSport United and Maritzburg United, Mngomezulu’s career looked to be over. A very short loan spell (he played no more than five matches for the PE side) with Chippa United followed and he was soon swelling the ranks of the unemployed.
“It was a tough time for me. But Swallows threw me a lifeline and all I want to do is try and see the club stay up.”
Out of a club, Mngomezulu tried out at then bottom-of-the-table side AmaZulu but Usuthu deemed him not good enough to help them in their plight for survival.
An injury to Luvhengo Mngomeni at Swallows opened up an opportunity for Mngomezulu and he gladly grabbed it.
And, while Swallows huffed and puffed their way to near oblivion, Mngomezulu could not be faulted for effort as he ran himself ragged since his debut against Chippa in April – occasionally showing glimpses of those halcyon days under Roger de Sa at Wits.
The Birds faithful will hope the 32-year-old gives of himself a little more this afternoon as Swallows strive to go top of the table when they visit Jomo Cosmos at the Vaal University of Technology Stadium.
“For me it is a challenge. I’m up for it. I’m very grateful for the opportunity Swallows gave me and the only way to show my gratitude is by performing on the field. As a team we’re confident we can survive. There are a lot of experienced players in the team and that got us through this match against Leopards.
”We went into the last few matches of the season very confident and it showed in our performances. We still have that confidence even though we know just how tough the play-offs can be. But I’m sure our experience will help us prevail.”
It will be easier said than done though, Cosmos desperately needing to avoid a second defeat after last Sunday’s loss at Leopards if they are to stay in the hunt for that last spot in the Premiership.
Jomo Sono’s team will be inspired by the fact they have been almost invincible at home in the National First Division (NFD), Ezenkosi having lost just once in 15 league matches.
But with Mngomezulu as determined as he is and the rest of the Birds players fired-up by Wednesday’s win, that impressive record could be in danger.
Original source: Birds will stay in top flight: Sipho