As a fresh-out-of-varsity journalist I had the opportunity of working at one of the country’s leading sports magazines at the time.
I got to meet some interesting people during those days and was simply more in love with sport than ever before, having spent some time doing in-depth interviews with players.
I still love getting to know the person behind the news.
Anyway, it was 2008 and South Africa had long searched for a Shane Warne-type spin bowler.
We simply didn’t produce them naturally, apart maybe from Paul “Gogga” Adams, who was left-handed.
I then interviewed a guy called Imran Tahir, a 29-year-old Pakistan-born leg spinner who had a burning desire to play for South Africa.
He told me at the time: “I have been neglected by the Pakistan selectors
“I should have been given a chance to prove myself.”
At the time of the interview, Tahir was still waiting to become a South African citizen and had finished that year with 31 scalps in just six SuperSport Series matches for the Titans.
There was already talk of him playing for the Proteas.
Of the “idea”, he said back then: “This is my home now. I’m going to live my life in South Africa, I pray that God will help me.
“I really want to play for South Africa, not just one or two games, but a lot.”
On Sunday, he set foot on The Oval in the colours of the country he loves, the country that has given him a second chance and allowed him to prove that he is one of the best spin bowlers in the world, Tahir played in his 100th ODI match for South Africa.
Not “one or two”, but his 100th at the age of 40, 11 years after we spoke about his dream.
It has been a wild run that has seen him bag 164 wickets before Sunday's match, including becoming only the fourth South African to take a hattrick in ODIs when he did so against Zimbabwe last year.
Tahir is a man of his word and has served the country well.
“If the opportunity comes, I won’t let South Africa down. I can’t wait to do well for the Proteas on the international stage,” he had promised back then.
Having announced his retirement at the end of the World Cup, Tahir will go down as a legend of the game in South Africa.
How will we ever forget his wild celebrations when taking a wicket and running to the boundary, arms stretched out wide?
He is the sort of player who embodies "Protea fire" - even more so because he knows that these chances don’t come around too often.
Ahead of Sunday's milestone match, he told journalists in England: “This [the 100th ODI match] means a lot to me.
“I could never express it in words. I’ve come through a lot of hard patches and seen a lot of hardships.
“It means so much to me and to my family. Every game I play for this country is really important to me and I’m just really proud.
“I dreamt this, but I never thought I would get to play with the legends that I have.
“I’m really grateful to everybody.
“I have given everything that I could to the country.”
Imran Tahir’s message on his 100th ODI:— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) June 2, 2019
A MESSAGE FROM IMMY ON HIS 1⃣0⃣0⃣th
🗣”It just feels right each time I put on the green jersey” - @ImranTahirSA
Can he find the much-needed breakthrough ?
BAN, 183/2 29.2 OVERS#ProteaFire 🔥#CWC19 #SAvBAN pic.twitter.com/2LEVMl8vbc
The humility with which Tahir did his job has gone a long way in him earning the respect of the cricketing world.
And while he has given the Proteas his all, there is still one more thing his countrymen are calling on him to do: bring back that World Cup trophy we’ve never won.
At the age of 40, it has taken Tahir longer than most to achieve his goals. He had to take a different route to others in order to play at the highest level and prove his worth.
But it will be tough to find a more inspiring story than his and how much more entertaining will it be if he can deliver a man-of-the-match performance in the final to finally change South Africans’ hoodoo at the global showpiece?
It may sound like a silly dream now, but hey, at the age of 29 Tahir also had a dream of playing international cricket.
And he didn’t want to play just one or two games, he wanted to play a lot...