Throwback Thursday: Sello Mahlangu
Posted: 9 August 2018 Time: 18:00
Former Mamelodi Sundowns man Sello 'Page' Mahlangu says football politics led him to hang up his boots in the early 2000s.
He retired at the age of 34 while on the books of Tembisa Classic after making only four appearances for the club.
"I retired in 2003 if I'm not mistaken," Mahlangu tells KickOff.com.
"There were too many politics in that team Classic. I was made a scapegoat, then I ended up saying it's better to leave football than to continue to be a problem. I then decided to retire, then I went for coaching. I was already 34 at that time. I retired at Classic, I played only four games."
Mahlangu who also represented Witbank Black Aces, explains how he ended up at Sundowns.
"‘Screamer’ [Stanley Tshabalala] and Trott [Moloto] by that time they were coaches, they had been following me for years while we were still playing that Cup called Pretoria News Cup. Every season ku opening game yama pre-season games. I refused to join them when I was still 22 because I could see I didn't have a place in the team. Because I was a right-footed player and they wanted me to come and play as a left-back. And by that time Mike Ntombela was very hot playing as a left-back. Ja, then they had been following me. When they gave me a free clearance at Aces, then Screamer came and said no come and join us. So that's how I joined them. I enjoyed my football to be honest at Sundowns. I was at the peak of my career by that time."
Mahlangu, who played in defence and midfield, says the most he earned in football was at Sundowns.
"The last amount if I remember very well it was somewhere around R45 000 or R50 000, somewhere there. It was at Sundowns. I took a pay cut at Classic because I was there for retirement, not to benefit out of that. It was a club from Tembisa. I thought I will be ploughing back you see. I will be part of their marketing, because me being there was more about marketing the team more than any other thing. Money by that time was not an issue to me. I joined them on the basis of building the team. Wishes go according to generations, during my time that money it was good. According to me I was also a high earner ku Sundowns. Some of us we were able to invest back our salaries. I wish today's generation also invest their salaries wisely so that tomorrow they may not point back you see. Because if they become poor after playing then it's their own mistakes. They can't blame no one because the resources are there for them.
"Saving money is still difficult even now, ja that's an economical issue. The stats says 10% of the population cannot even save one percent of their salary. During that time also it was difficult to save, even now it is still difficult for those players who are playing now. It's up to you whether you favour a life that goes with fame, or you look in the future and say let me plan for my future. I was fortunate to rub shoulders with people who are focused in life, who were telling you about life after football. Also at Sundowns they had this thing of financial advisers."
Mahlangu, who these days works as a high school teacher to put food on the table in his home town of Tembisa, describes himself as a hustler.
"One, I'm a hustler. I make money with anything that I come across, and it's very strange to hear that. Ja for the day job I'm an educator, ja then I do some coaching in the Vodacom [ABC Motsepe League] and Castle [SAB League] teams but not for money. How I make money again, I'm a hustler. I'm an entrepreneur. Anything that I see has potential on the market I sell. I deliver it just to make money. In Isindebele they say imali iphasi, meaning money is on the ground you see. You can buy mealies and sell, anything that can make you money. I live by those theories.
"I was an educator even during my playing days. I went to college while I was still at Witbank Aces. I qualified and started working as a teacher while I was still at Aces. I went to Sundowns while I was still in education. What has changed is that we are growing, as a person you become matured. I don't live that high style anymore because of the responsibilities.
"I thought people have forgotten about me but they still recognise who I am, and I'm trying by all costs not to be caught up in the celebrity thing, because you will spend more than you have you see. Once that thing comes in you become excited now and find yourself in a places where you are not supposed to be, cost-effective places. Fortunately I am not drinking, that's where the money is being spent. I always try to move away every time I find myself in such places. Because you might end up buying other people beer while you are not drinking.
"I have four children, three girls and one boy. Me and my wife separated, I'm only staying with my children ...when is she going to return? I don't know, but mina I'm staying with my children."
Mahlangu feels the current state of football in the PSL has greatly improved.
"It has improved, make no mistake, and it's now a good brand. Players have also changed, they have very good attitude in terms of the playing point of view. The standard have gone up. We cannot compare much with the other countries but we are saying we are going in the right direction. You can see even with the payment package it keeps everybody home. People are starting to educate themselves. You can see with the tactics, the approach of the game ukuthi it's changed. Gone are the days whereby people will come and dominate the league. You can see even Sundowns have competitors."
Mahlangu says he only has one regret in football.
"There was a situation while I was still at Aces; there was once a player revolt there whereby we did not go and play against Kaizer Chiefs based on the saying that others were paid less, and others were paid high. If it was now my approach it was going to be very different from what happened that time. If I remember very well, I was involved by doing this thing called solidarity. That situation ended up making the team relegated and it disappeared until now in the history of South African football. That was something that I regret, that I could have acted better. That team could have been there now as we are speaking. I should have done things better. I supported something that I did not know that ... down the line we gonna make a history for it to disappear. Football in that province, the legacy of that team ... everything has disappeared."