In a rare interview Hartley tells KickOff.com that he still has two offers to return to Asia, but is weighing his options as he already has a thriving property development business in Johannesburg.
“At the moment I remain unattached to any club but I have two offers to go back to Asia that I am still undecided about. The thing is I have a property development business that has taken off so well so much that it has made me think whether I really want to continue playing.
“So I don’t know if I should leave the business and go back to football. I have one week to decide and then get back to the Asian guys to let them know if I am taking the offer or not. My contract at my last club in Malaysia expired in February this year, so I am now a free agent though I left that club last year because of money problems,” says Hartley.
Though not involved with any club since he left Malaysia last year the 30 year-old still appreciates the value of what football did to his life.
“You have to understand that football has been good to me and I have started this business because of the game. But at the moment my heart is where I am making my living from, which is this business that I am running. I still know that I was never a bad player and nobody can take that away from me,” he says.
Struck by controversy throughout his career, Hartley broke through as a 16-year-old at Wits before moving to RC Lens in France then Vitoria Setubal in Portugal.
After then he returned home to play for Seven Stars, Orlando Pirates, Moroka Swallows, Ajax Cape Town, Jomo Cosmos and Maritzburg United.
In the past year he has trained with Thanda Royal Zulu, Supersport United and Platinum Stars with no luck. Nothing came of a planned move to FC AK either.
One factor that Hartley must take into consideration if he decides to take up an offer in Malaysia is a reported decision by Malaysia not to allow any foreigners to ply their trade in the domestic league from next season. This is in a drastic attempt to improve the quality of their young homegrown players.
Veteran Namibian midfielder Robert Nauseb has already become one of the first victims of the Malaysian ban on foreign players.