Ernst Middendorp's second stint at Kaizer Chiefs has seen a number of youngsters elevated to the first team, with 22-year-old defender Happy Mashiane among the more promising.
The Amakhosi youth product made his first-team debut in January 2019, when the Soweto giants saw off third-tier outfit Tornado FC from Mdantsane on their way to finishing as Nedbank Cup runners-up.
Happy Mashiane on the rise
Deputising for injured Bafana star Ramahlwe Mphahlele, the player impressed the SA football's biggest fanbase in his first run out with the big boys.
Mashiane's short spell in the limelight has already yielded national honours, as he has represented the SA under-23 side that has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, which have since been postponed until 2021.
Mashiane is proud of his achievements so far.
"I am proud to say the least," Mashiane told the club website. "It is a great honour to play for Kaizer Chiefs and represent my country."Happy Mashiane
Looking forward to the future
Having made his debut on the second half of the 2018/19 season, Mashiane featured just four times for the first team before a foot injury curtailed his progress.
The current season saw him run onto the field for ten minutes in a victory against Baroka in September, before waiting four months for his only other appearance – a second-half run in a 3-0 drubbing of Cape Town City.
His sporadic involvement for club was, however, a direct contract compared to his appearances in national colours, as he was a key member of the side that secured Olympic qualification.
Mashiane had a special message for South Africa's youth, who are commemorating Youth Month in June.
"My message to the youth is to respect and remember those who fought trying to make South Africa a better place," he said.Happy Mashiane
Kaizer Chiefs currently top the league standings, with four points on defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who have a game in hand.