Mateo Manousakis is not your average soccer fan. From the time he was 4 or 5 years old and attending practices with Vasili Manousakis, his father who coaches in South Africa's Premier Soccer League, Mateo's passion for the game was apparent. But Vasili had no idea what a sensation his son would become.
Young Mateo has spent the past several years leading the Cape Town City Football Club in pregame chants and dances, and videos of him have gone viral. Few kids would have the gumption to serve as the front man for a professional sports team coming down the tunnel, and few teams would consider an 8- or 9-year-old such a part of the team that they happily follow his lead. But that's just what happened with Mateo at Cape Town City F.C.
“I didn’t expect it at all,” Vasili, who served as assistant coach for the team, told IOL in 2018. "I think, here at City, it’s just the amazing team spirit that took him in; he has the love and respect from the players, he can feel it, it’s real, and they always want to see him."
Watch this video of Mateo leading the team down the tunnel to the Awuleth' Umshini Wami chant, a Zulu language "struggle song" that was popularized during the anti-apartheid movement, to see why:
So much confidence and composure in such a little guy. It's like he was born to be a coach.
Over the years, Mateo has developed a relationship with the team's players and has also become a bit of a celebrity among Cape Town City fans. Videos of him leading the team in such pregame rituals have been widely shared and enjoyed on social media.
#MondayMotivation goes to Mateo Manousakis for battling it out with Thuso Phala! \n\nThere\u2019s no limit to this boy\u2019s energy!\n#iamCityFCpic.twitter.com/YTyb0X3rMg— Cape Town City FC (@Cape Town City FC) 1523859567
It was recently announced that Vasili Manousakis is leaving Cape Town City for another team, so the future of Mateo's relationship with the team is a bit up in the air. But even if he isn't able to continue leading the team in their pregame rituals and dance with them on the sidelines, he has created some awesome memories for everyone involved.
And he's created some uplifting entertainment for us all to enjoy. Well done, Mateo, and good luck wherever you land.
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