It had been a long title drought for Mamelodi Sundowns when they signed a little known Dutch defender who’d spent 13 years of his topflight career at a single club.
When Alje Schut joined Masandawana, the championship had been eluding us for five straight seasons and hurting our street cred…
The 31-year-old was signed from FC Utrecht in the Eredivisie to give leadership at rearguard, but in the end his role was much more significant. Much more.
Upon his arrival at Chloorkop in December 2012, with a mandate to stabilize the ship, get the team out of the relegation zone and then rebuild in a few months, coach Pitso Mosimane needed a dependable ally in the dressing room.
There were several candidates, but ‘Jingles’ trusted Schut with the armband and the tide changed almost instantly, though a Top 8 finish proved a step too far that season.
Schut, a left footed central defender who charmed journalists with his down-to-earth demeanour and became a crowd favourite with his commitment and never-say-die attitude became the first Sundowns captain since Michael Manzini seven years prior to lift a league title when we were crowned champions in 2014.
Being on the fore front was no overwhelming challenge for Schut – after more than a decade at Utrecht, the defender became the club captain as a badge of honour for his true commitment and loyalty as a one club man.
His contribution at Sundowns was not just limited to being Mosimane’s confidant and leading the troops on the road back to the glory days, but Schut was an aerial weapon as well and scored nine goals in 67 Absa Premiership matches.
After three very memorable years, the skipper went back home, but he’d made his mark and very much left a lasting impression at Sundowns and among the fans.
Since first lifting the trophy to end a painful seven-year title drought, Mosimane’s squad has added three more to the cabinet and if ever there was a player that symbolizes the return to winning ways – in true Masandawana fashion – it was Schut.