Throwback Thursday: Sifiso Vilakazi
Posted: 23 November 2017 Time: 13:00
Former Bidvest Wits striker Sifiso Vilakazi says his biggest regret in football was not signing for Orlando Pirates in 2011.
At the time Pirates were also talking to Bafana Bafana legend Benni McCarthy, who landed up leading the line for Bucs for two years before hanging up his boots in 2013.
Vilakazi remained at Wits in 2011/12 and then moved to AmaZulu when Swedish coach Roger Palmgren took charge of Usuthu. Vilakazi admits money motivated the switch as his last salary in the PSL was over R100 000 a month.
On retirement four years ago, Vilakazi invested some of his savings on the advice of his uncle and ventured into the taxi industry, with his BTM business currently operating in Johannesburg, Kempton Park and Tembisa.
"I have two regrets in life while I was still playing football: firstly, not signing for Pirates and going to AmaZulu," Vilakazi, who has five kids, tells KickOff.com.
"I had that thing of I wanted to stay at Wits and retire there although at the end of the day it didn't go the way I planned. Then I had to move because they couldn't meet my requirements the following season to remain at the club.
"Bra 'Screamer' [Stanley Tshabalala] and Floyd Mbele [both Pirates officials] were phoning me and I said no because my aim, as I have said, was to stay at Wits because my age in football was not on my side. So I thought going to Pirates at that time was not going to work for me.
"It was just when they signed Benni. I think they had doubts about Benni because they were talking to Benni and myself at the very same time, because it was the same year they signed Benni.
"My second regret was moving from Wits to AmaZulu. Money-wise it was good but playing-wise it didn't materialise the way I thought it was going to be, but financially it was a good move. It was James Dlamini at the time who was the general manager and Roger Palmgren also had an influence."
The 37-year-old, who was born in Driefontein in Mpumalanga, was last on the books of the now-defunct Sivutsa Stars in 2013. The club sold their NFD status in 2014 to Durban tycoon Sbu Mpisane, who changed the name to Royal Eagles.
Vilakazi notably scored twice in the 2010 Nedbank Cup final at FNB Stadium when Roger de Sa's Wits defeated Neil Tovey's AmaZulu, just a few months prior to the FIFA World Cup getting underway in South Africa.
On top of his Nedbank Cup medal, Vilakazi was part of the Ajax Cape Town side that beat Orlando Pirates in the Telkom Knockout final in 2008 at Chatsworth Stadium in Durban. Craig Rosslee was in charge of Ajax when Mabhuti Khenyeza scored twice that day.
While he celebrated that TKO triumph with the Urban Warriors, the 2011 TKO saw Pirates defeat Wits in the final at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium.
He also helped Free State Stars gain promotion to the PSL in 2004/05.
"The biggest game of mine is still the Nedbank Cup final and the friendly match I played in Holland when Ajax Cape Town went on tour to play Ajax Amsterdam," says Vilakazi.
Vilakazi has urged the current generation of footballers to get qualifications before they call time on their careers.
"For me the most important thing as a footballer you have to invest in the right way, where you believe after football that this will take care of me. I think the first key thing is education," says Vilakazi, who has a matric certificate.
"There's a lot of time after training because sometimes you train once a day. I think they have to try and focus on school in order to prepare for life after football. But all in all education is the key and that is an important aspect of life.
"Also humbling yourself in each and everything that you are doing, and working very hard, that is the key."