Lebese: Look beyond Chiefs, Downs, Pirates

Premiership

Former Bafana Bafana winger George Lebese has encouraged South Africa's young players to dream beyond playing for Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates.

After making his name in the DStv Premiership with Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United, Lebese moved abroad to the United States in December 2019 when he joined Colorado Springs Switchbacks for the 2020 ULS Championship campaign.

The 32-year-old scored twice in 16 appearances for his new side and was retained for the 2021 season, but ultimately saw his plans of returning to the club scuppered after South Africa was placed on the US' travel ban due to the country's variant strain of the Covid-19 virus.

Nonetheless, the former Amakhosi star reflects positively on his spell in North America and, in an interview with KickOff.com, reveals his hope that more of South Africa's young players will look for opportunities in the US and abroad rather than limiting themselves to dreams of playing for the PSL's so-called big three.

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"I would encourage it, especially the young ones who are just breaking into the PSL," Lebese says. "If there is that opportunity at that very young age, I think they should look into it.

"It also opens up a whole lot of channels for them because American sport is being looked at by European countries more and more every season. At first, it started out as a source of entertainment but now it's being taken more seriously, and you can see it with the type of players who are making it to the big teams.

"At Barcelona, there's an American player [Sergiño Dest], there's an American player at Juventus [Weston McKennie], guys who have gone to Bayern Munich [such as Alphonso Davies, Chris Richards and Justin Che] who have come from the USLC and the MLS, so I think a lot of South African players should consider it.

"It's a good platform. I know some of the guys just see as far as the PSL, as far as Kaizer Chiefs, so I would encourage them to look beyond that. Don't mistake me, Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates are all giants of African football, not only in South Africa, but we should look further than that.

"When I look at myself, if I had known about this opportunity, I probably would have taken it at an earlier age, but I was not exposed to that..."

This article is an extract from the full interview with George Lebese in the April edition of Kick Off Magazine. The latest copy can be purchased online here or in store for R25 and includes more great content on the former Bafana Bafana star's spell with Colorado Springs Switchbacks.

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