KICK OFF: After so much time on the sidelines, you must be excited about doing what you love most … playing football.
Benedict Vilakazi: I love football. People know me as Tso Vilakazi because of football. I am glad that I am playing again, even though the standard of football in Swaziland cannot be compared to the PSL.
How would you describe Swaziland?
It has improved lot since I was last here. It’s a cool country with a relaxed atmosphere. The people here have given me a warm welcome and the journalists have been good to me.
Before joining Malati Chiefs, you left Black Leopards under a cloud …
There was misunderstanding. I remember listening to Robert Marawa on Metro FM and doing interview with Tendani [Thidiela] about the game against Kaizer Chiefs. I was surprised to hear that I was left behind because I was unfit and not ready to play. I was so disappointed about Tendani’s statement because he was not a coach and I’d never seen him at training. After Robert Marawa called me for my side of the story, I was told I was suspended from the team and later handed my clearance.
At Mpumalanga Black Aces you were also suspended after rumours that you brought a woman to the hotel during camp?
There was no proof or evidence. Both my roommate and security personnel testified that they never saw me with a woman at the hotel. I believe both George and Mario were given the wrong information about me. It’s a pity, because they are passionate guys who want to return the glory days to Aces. There were also things that didn’t go right in terms of my paperwork, which included a signature that was not mine.
After the loan deal expired at Aces you were supposed to return to Mamelodi Sundowns, but found that your services were no longer required there …
I had a few injuries before I went to Aces, so I feel I did well under the circumstances and was confident I would continue with my career at Sundowns. However, when I returned I was told that my contract would not be renewed based on the report they got from Aces. I spoke to [Kenneth] Makhanya and he gave me the same reason and said I must speak to Trott [Moloto]. I also tried to reach the president [Patrice Motsepe] but was blocked. There were problems with signing-on fee and salaries during my loan spell with Aces that also involved Sundowns. Even though I was paid the outstanding salaries after going to a DC, I never got the money owed from signing-on fees.
After spending time in Denmark, why did you decide to come back?
I lost my sister, who left two kids that needed to be looked after. My older brother was studying in India, so I had no choice but to come home to take care of the kids.
Was your decision to join Sundowns motivated by money? Do you regret not rejoining Pirates after your spell overseas?
No! I always wanted to come back and play for Pirates. Joining Sundowns was not about money, even though they did approach me before my sister passed away. I called Dr Khoza and told him I would prefer coming back to Pirates. I spoke to Floyd Mbele and Screamer [Tshabalala]. They said they will come back to me. I waited, but no-one called. When my sister passed away I had no choice but to come home, so I joined Sundowns. Pirates kept me waiting.
There was talk you approached Bobby Motaung to join Kaizer Chiefs ...
I never called Bobby. We met at Alex and he asked me if I was interested in joining Chiefs. I said I would see and was surprised when heard him on Metro FM saying I called him because I wanted to join Kaizer Chiefs. What happened is that I spoke to Siyabonga Nkosi about meeting Stuart Baxter. I went to Naturena and spoke to Baxter about the possibility of joining Chiefs. He gave me a programme to follow and said I must come back to training on a Tuesday. But when I came back, Baxter said that Bobby told him that he cannot sign me because of the agreement between Pirates and Chiefs to no longer sign players from each other. I was surprised a few weeks later when Collins Mbesuma signed for Pirates, yet he once played for Chiefs.
Do you believe football politics have closed doors for you?
I don’t know …only God knows. I have realized that coaches and club directors do speak and influence some decisions in football.
When last did you speak to Dr Khoza?
It’s been a while. Before joining Black Leopards, I spoke to Dr Khoza but he said the problem was budget. I said the issue that I want more money was made by the media, and I was not interested in big money. He promised to come back to me, but he never did.
What are your best memories at Pirates?
There are plenty, but wearing the number 15 jersey worn by Jerry Skhosane was a big thing for me. I achieved everything I wanted to at Pirates other than winning the CAF Champions League. We had a chance, but unfortunately lost in the semifinals. So if I can go back to Pirates, that’s the only thing I want to win.
If the presented itself, would you return to Pirates?
I will not even wait for tomorrow … I would go yesterday! Orlando Pirates is my home. I will always love Pirates. I grew up there and learnt a lot about football there. I wish the chairman, Screamer and the club management could give me another chance of playing for Pirates.