Linda ‘Mercedes Benz’ Buthelezi was one of the hard tackling midfielders in South African football. He was well-known for not being an easy kind of player especially on 50-50 situations. Most of the players he went 50-50 with ended up giving him space to get the ball first to avoid getting injured.
He played football locally and in Europe. He also represented Bafana Bafana and was one of the key players when Bafana won their first and only AFCON trophy in 1996. His football career on the field of play lasted for 11 years and in 199 he decided to hang up the boots.
In South Africa, Linda started his career at Jomo Cosmos in 1988 and the man who discovered him is none other than Jomo Sono. He played 2 years for Cosmos and was signed by Kaizer Chiefs on which he also spent 2 years before moving to Europe where he spent only a year.
In Europe he played for a Turkish side Karabukspor for a year and returned back home to play for Orlando Pirates. After Pirates he played for Mamelodi Sundowns where he spent 3 years with the Mamelodi side before moving to Supersport for a year before retiring from football.
Although he was one of the key players for Bafana Bafana, he only played 27 games for the national team. He has injured a lot of players during his playing days and some of them never recovered. Brandon Silent is one of them and it became difficult for Brandon to recover until he retired from football.
George Dearnely was also a victim of Linda’s hard tackles and he also suffered a career threatening injury which saw him on and off the field of play in a number of occasions. George also struggled with the injury caused by Linda and soon retired from football as it was becoming more difficult to play the beautiful game.
During the match between Bafana Bafana and England, Linda tackled the famous Paul Gascoigne and injured him without the referee noticing it. Paul was then replaced and since then he struggled to recover when he returned home in England and his career was never the same since the tackle by Buthelezi.
During his playing days at home in South Africa Linda was respected by all his teammates and opponents on the field of play and that is one fact that is missing in the current crop of players in South African football. Linda was one of the best players in midfield and was not an easy player to get past and all his opponents were aware of that fact including international opponents when he was playing for Bafana Bafana.
Linda has not seen enough red cards during his tackles as most of them seem legitimate until the injured players were unable to make a comeback after being taken out of the field to receive medical attention. Indeed he was not that rough but when he tackled he was very hard and too strong.
The current Bafana Bafana team does not have any player who played as Linda Buthelezi and it is a shame for the national team. Linda is a true legend and h deserves to be respected in the football world up until today.