Just after leaving for Europe, the 30-year-old showed interest in returning to the Soweto giants where he spent five seasons
AmaZulu midfielder Hendrick Ekstein says the influence of Benni McCarthy prompted him to sign for the KwaZulu-Natal outfit.
The fast midfielder joined Usuthu in August after a two-season stint in Azerbaijan, where he played for Sabah FK and FK Sabail.
During his early days in Europe, Ekstein said he would be interested to rejoin Kaizer Chiefs, but he ends up in Durban.
The player explains what encouraged him to sign at AmaZulu.
‘I came back [from FK Sabail in Azerbaijan] because I spoke to coach Benni and we started talking in 2019 since I left SA, ”said Ekstein Sowetan Live.
“He was the person I talked to, and it was easy for me to come to AmaZulu because I’d talked to the coach before. The way other players welcomed me also made me feel at home.
‘The way the team is managed is similar to the team I played with overseas. It’s easy for me to gel with the team because of the way they welcomed me.
“For me, what I saw in the AmaZulu team, whether you are young or old, is about the quality you can deliver when we train. We do not have young people or senior players because everyone learns from senior players and young people.
‘The quality of the team is strong and if we look at the way the team played last season, we show that we have a good band. We hope we will play the same way this season and maybe win one or two trophies with the quality we have. ”
Ekstein made his AmaZulu debut in their last Premier Soccer League match against Swallows in which he appeared as a substitute and took part in the last 10 minutes of the match.
‘For me it was good to play [against Swallows] even though I played a few minutes, but it shows that if I can work harder, I will have time to play, because coach Benni wants players to work hard, ‘said Ekstein.
‘For a player to play at AmaZulu, you have to work hard, and it’s not about whether you come from abroad or your name. It’s all about practicing hard so you can play. I’m glad I had time to play, and I hope to play more and deliver for the team. ”
The midfielder is now hoping to use his experience to help Usuthu in their Caf Champions League campaign which kicks them off in a home game against Malawian champions Nyasa Big Bullets on Friday.