Former Orlando Pirates midfielder Augustine Mahlonoko has opened up about his ill-fated stay with the Mighty Buccaneers.
Mahlonoko was promoted to the Pirates senior team in 2018 and went on to make his PSL debut at the age of 16 against Highlands Park at Orlando Stadium the same year.
Despite being touted as the next big star at Pirates, the Vaal-born midfielder was quickly demoted to the MultiChoice Diski Challenge team before being loaned out to ABC Motsepe League side Pele Pele FC in Gauteng.
Mahlonoko has since bounced back into the South African top-flight after signing a two-year contract with Baroka FC this week.
"I can say it was a blessing and curse at the same time because at the time I was promoted to senior team I was youn, and I had to balance school and football. It was hard. Fine, I was expecting the pressure, but I found the pressure was too much," Mahlonoko opens up to KickOff.com.
"I didn't fail at Pirates. It was my first professional contract at a young age. I won't say I failed but I learnt a lot at Pirates.
"All now is the past. My focus now is at Baroka. My goal is to play as many games as I can, get fit, get experience, get strong mentally and physically and help the club win trophies next season."
This website broke the story a few months ago that Mahlonoko was due to undergo trials with Atletico Madrid in Spain before the country's lockdown.
"I was supposed to go two weeks after the lockdown but unfortunately all the borders were closed down. We will see what happens in future," he concludes.
Mahlonoko made his Pirates debut even earlier than several players who went on to become club legends – see below