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Mateo Horstead, ex-Maritzburg College captain, now with AmaZulu, talks football

By Siya Pongco , in Football | Featured Football | News , at 2024-04-24 Tags:

With the KZN Schools Football Season underway, SuperSport Schools‘ football writer Siya Pongco felt it was a good time to talk about the game with Amazulu FC‘s Mateo Horstead, who captained Maritzburg College to an exceptional season last year.

An exceptionally talented playmaker, his excellence was recognised when he was named a member of SuperSport Schools’ Class of 2023.

“Mateo is a player I have been eager to speak with ever since I first saw him in 2023, dominating the midfield and displaying exceptional leadership skills for one of the strongest teams in school football,” Pongo said.

“It did not come as a surprise when Mateo and his team at College ended the season with a treble, solidifying their position as one of the best in the 160-year history of Maritzburg College, as stated by Michael Dibben, the master in charge of football at College.”

Mateo, born and raised in Pietermaritzburg, possesses an unimaginable passion for the game, which is evident through his unwavering dedication, love and respect for it.

He has been playing football since the age of five, and his dream is to play professionally abroad.

“I started playing soccer in the backyard with my cousin, and from the moment he introduced me to the sport, I instantly fell in love with it,” Mateo recalled.

With Mateo Horstead leading the team, Maritzburg College enjoyed a trophy-filled season in 2023.
With Mateo Horstead leading the team, Maritzburg College enjoyed a trophy-filled season in 2023.

If you have closely followed his game, you will know he has acquired numerous nicknames, but the one that stands out the most is “Gusheshe”, which means hurry up. In South African culture, it is customary for exceptional players to be bestowed with unique nicknames, which is part of the country’s rich heritage in the beautiful game.

“I am extremely grateful to have been given this nickname,” Mateo said. “Initially, I was puzzled when I heard the commentator referring to me as Gusheshe, but once I understood its symbolic meaning, I felt honoured and happy.

“The nickname originated in 2022 when a SuperSport Schools commentator, Mr Sibonelo ‘Bhuda’ Zulu used it during one of my games, and it has stuck with me ever since.”


Mateo has found inspiration and continues to be inspired by many people on his football journey, including his teammates, other players and the coaching staff. However, there is one player in particular whom he greatly admires, Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian superstar stands out for Mateo because of his exceptional passing, vision, and ability to read the game.

Mateo closely analyses De Bruyne’s style of play and strives to pick up the lessons he has learned from the midfield maestro and incorporate them into his own game.

Another player who has earned Mateo’s admiration is Villareal midfielder and Spanish international Danny Parejo. Mateo appreciates Parejo’s composure on the ball and his movement both on and off it.

When observing Mateo’s performances as a central midfielder, it becomes evident that he invests significant time and effort into developing his game. His precise passes and his defensive prowess showcase his dedication to all aspects of it.

Simultaneously, he exhibits brilliance by consistently delivering defence-splitting passes to his forwards, which leave his opponents bewildered and struggling to keep up.

Good with the ball at his feet, but even better when making telling passes, Mateo Horstead is a gifted all-round player.
Good with the ball at his feet, but even better when making telling passes, Mateo Horstead is a gifted all-round player.

His cousin Conal Cone, who is a dead ringer for Mateo, has also played a pivotal role in motivating him to pursue a career in football. From a young age, Conal imparted his knowledge and skills, teaching Mateo how to play the game. Conal’s experience playing in the Premier League for Maritzburg United and Golden Arrows further inspired Mateo, as his cousin always made time to help guide him towards becoming a better player and individual.

Maritzburg College

“Playing for Maritzburg College was an incredible honour for me. Since I was a young child, I always aspired to attend this prestigious school. Being chosen as the team captain was an incredible experience, and I will forever cherish the opportunity it provided me to fulfil a lifelong dream,” Mateo said.

“Throughout my time at Maritzburg College, I had the privilege of learning valuable lessons from the dedicated coaches and soccer directors. They instilled in me the belief that through hard work and unwavering dedication, I could accomplish anything I set my mind to, both on and off the field.”

Another big source of inspiration for Mateo during his time at the school was College old boy Ryan Moon, a former professional player. His achievements have served as a testament to the value of perseverance and commitment.

Moon has represented Bafana Bafana and has also turned out for renowned clubs, including Golden Arrows and Kaizer Chiefs. His example has shown Mateo that unwavering commitment is the key to success.

There’s another former College player whom Mateo greatly admires, Bandile Shandu, of Orlando Pirates. His playing style and impressive accomplishments serve as a constant source of motivation.

Living the life in the colours of Amazulu FC.
Living the life in the colours of Amazulu FC.

“Overall, my experience at Maritzburg College, and the influence of remarkable individuals like Ryan Moon and Bandile Shandu, has reinforced my belief in the importance of hard work and dedication in achieving one’s goal,” Mateo said.

English Premier League

Touching on one of his biggest dreams, he revealed: “Playing in the Premier League has always been a lifelong dream of mine, ever since I first started playing. I firmly believe that it is the ultimate league to showcase my skills and compete against the very best.

“Additionally, making my debut in the PSL this year would be a dream come true. I have been working towards this goal for a long time and I am excited about the opportunity to prove myself.

“As I continue my journey, I am fully aware that there is always room for improvement and growth in every aspect of my game”.

A message to the Maritzburg College Squad of 2024

“First and foremost, I extend my best wishes to the Maritzburg College team of 2024.

“I have the utmost confidence in both the coaches and the team to excel this year.

“We must adhere to the football style we are familiar with, as it has been instilled by coach Calvin Petersen and coach Nic Haswell, which will make us unbeatable.

“Remember to play for the badge and honour the legacy of the players who came before you, rather than focusing on individual glory.”

error: Sorry ol' chap, those shenanigans are not permissible.