Matombo: Back row centre

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Throwback Thursday: Nkipitheni Matombo

Posted: 16 November 2017 Time: 13:01

Next time you see a road worker around Kempton Park in Ekurhuleni, you might want to take a closer look because it may be former Olympian and Absa Premiership winner Nkipitheni Matombo.

That's how the ex-Amaglug-glug and Manning Rangers defender is making a living these days.

"No, ngiyas'pana, so far I'm working. I'm working for a company called USA [Utility Solution of Africa]," Matombo tells KickOff.com.

"We are doing drilling and fibre. We drill under the ground, like for instance when we drill across the road we first put robots, and we have to put lights where we have to cross the road, because nowadays the municipality don't allow us to dig the road or to break it. We have to drill across it. Then with fibre we are improving the network, something like that."

Matombo felt he earned decent money during his playing days but struggled to save before retiring in 2008, citing the lack of financial guidance as a factor.

"My last football salary as a player I think it was R15 000 somewhere there, at Black Leopards. Those days it was not easy [to save] because... we lacked advisors, and that was the problem you see. As someone who was from the villages, without those people you won't save much. But as for the salary I think it was fair for those days."

Matombo's big break in football came when a journalist spotted him playing in the African Youth Championship in Morocco.

"We were in Morocco playing in the African Youth Championships. There was this journalist who spoke to Gordon Igesund and that's when the move started," he says of his move to the Mighty Maulers, who won the inaugural PSL season in 1996/97.

Matombo participated at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney when South Africa famously beat Brazil 3-1 courtesy of goals by Quinton Fortune, Siyabonga Nomvethe and Steve Lekoelea.

He feels football in the country has regressed, pointing to the nation's failure to win a game and first-round exit at Rio 2016 as evidence.

"So far our football in South Africa... I don't see improvement, instead of going forward we keep on going backwards. For instance, in our recent U-23 squad that went to Brazil I can't say we improved a lot because if we did we would have progressed to the last-16 stage or quarter-finals.

"For them it seemed they just went there to honour the Olympic qualification because according to me, I don't see any improvement as we didn't go to the next round like other African countries."

Matombo admits he has had to adjust his lifestyle since hanging up his boots. 

"I'm not earning much but I'm surviving. It's all about reducing everything that we had previously compared with what we have right now, with the lifestyle that we are living. I'm married and I have got six kids. I think I retired in 2008 if I'm not mistaken. I had a serious hamstring injury."

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Article by: Sipho Mlotha
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