Journeyman Ernst Middendorp’s time in South Africa could be over

Johannesburg – At 64-years-old, Ernst Middendorp’s recently ended spell with Swallows FC could have been his last on South African soil. Middendorp unexpectedly quit the Dube Birds to return to Germany with SV Meppen, a third-tier side in his homeland.

However, never say never … Middendorp’s experience will make him an attractive option to a few mid-table clubs should he want to return to South Africa. In addition to this, he also has South African citizenship which means that clubs don’t really have to go through much hassle if they want to recruit him.

Middendorp’s football career was mainly spent on the books of lower-league sides in Germany and he went on to start his managerial career in 1987 with lower league side Eintracht Nordhorn, before taking charge of Arminia Bielefeld.

He is one of the few European coaches to have graced the PSL that actually did coach in a top five European league. His third spell with Arminia Bielefeld in 2007 coincided with the club being in the German Bundesliga. In that season, he took former Kaizer Chiefs stalwarts Rowen Fernandez and Siyabonga Nkosi with him to Germany.

Middendorp’s journey in South Africa started in 2005 with Chiefs as he replaced the legendary Ted Dumitru. That first spell with Chiefs also proved to be the most successful of his time in South Africa as it yielded the SAA Supa 8 and Coca-Cola Cup.

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He would go on to coach several clubs in South Africa over the years including Maritzburg United four times, Golden Arrows, Chippa United, Bloemfontein Celtic and lastly Swallows FC.

Middendorp’s second spell with Chiefs was memorable as it ended with Chiefs losing the title race to Mamelodi Sundowns on the final day of the 2019/20 season. For much of that season, Chiefs were the runaway leaders and were expected to convincingly win the title before a late season slump in form led to Pitso Mosimane’s side triumphing.

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A journeyman coach, Middendorp is considered tactically savvy by many as was seen during his two year spell with Maritzburg United which ended at the conclusion of last season. He kept the Team of Choice in the DStv Premiership despite working with limited resources.

However, his feisty temper could also get the better of him which was seen at the end of his recent spell with Swallows. In his days with Maritzburg, he was also known to engage angrily with fans of the club on social media.


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