Thomas Madigage & Augustine Makalakalane

In August 1989 it was big news when two South African trialists arrived at Ibrox. They were brought over through a link with a former playing colleague of Jimmy Nicholl, South African Jomo Sono who played along side Jimmy at Toronto Blizzard. Both players were on the books of the team he owned, Jomo Cosmos.

There was quite a contrast between the players. Makalakalane was 25 years old and an established player in the South African league, where as Madigage was the new emerging teenage talent, who made his debut  two years  earlier for Jomo Cosmos as a 16-year-old.

From memory both players were involved in a friendly at Clydebank, Madigage scoring in a 4-2 win. Madigage played wide right and Makalakalane came on as a substitute in central midfield. I think Madigage also played as a sub in a game against Clyde, but the game I remember most was a friendly on a miserably wet night against Cumbernauld United. Madigage was pretty sensational seemingly passing players at will as he set up chance after chance.

Where as both players impressed during the trial period, Makalakalane’s age meant he was less likely to be offered a deal, but Rangers were pretty keen on securing the teenager Madigage. Unfortunately negotiations to bring him to Ibrox broke down and the deal was dead.

Both players went on to have “interesting” careers in the game, so I thought it would be worth a wee post.

Thomas Madigage

Starring for Rangers at a youth tournament in Italy, impressing on pre-season games and being dubbed “Pele” by his Rangers team mates it looked likely that  he would become a Rangers player, but it wasn’t to be.

A similar experience then followed at Manchester City, invited to and starring in an Under 19 tournament for the Maine Road club, the “Pele” tag again, but for one reason or another no signed contract at the end of it.

So it was with FC Zurich in 1990 that Thomas finally signed a professional contract in Europe. Unfortunately an ankle injury meant he only made four appearances for the Swiss club and his European adventure was over after one season.

It was back to South Africa and he managed to get back to a level where he gained for caps for his country. Starting with a substitute appearance against Mauritius in April 1993 in an African Nations Cup qualifier, this was followed by another from the bench in a friendly against Brazil in 1996. The same year he started against Ghana in a Four Nations Cup match, with his last appearance being a start against Holland in a friendly in June 1997.

He was in the news again in February 2001, when playing for Supersport United in a game live on TV, he suffered a cardiac contusion (bruising of the heart). He received treatment from the club medical staff  until a helicopter landed pitch to whisk him to hospital.

Fortunately Thomas soon made a complete recovery and today he is still involved in the game. He is now assistant coach to Gavin Hunt at Supersport United where they have guided the club to the last two Premier Soccer League Championships.

Augustine Makalakalane

As already mentioned Makalakalane was seven years older than Madigage when he was on trial at Ibrox, so he would have had to have been pretty exceptional to secure a deal.

He did go on to have a career that surpassed the younger player, who didn’t have his injury problems to seek.  He joined FC Zurich at the same time as Thomas, Augustine’s career in Switzerland lasting seven years, split between FC Zurich and FC Baden. He returned to South Africa to play for Mamelodi Sundowns and Wits University.

During his time in Switzerland he gained 14 caps for South Africa, making his debut against Cameroon in July 1992.  He played against teams of the quality of Argentina and Germany in friendlies, with his last cap coming in the African Nations Cup Finals of January 1996 against Egypt.

Like Madigage, Augustine is still involved in the game and is now coach of “Banyana Banyana”, the South African women’s team to you and me.

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