Fire reveals lucrative Downs salaries


Joel 'Fire' Masilela says he remains blessed and reveals how well Mamelodi Sundowns looked after him financially once he broke into the first-team.

Like many footballers who make it to the PSL, Masilela learned to play the game in the dusty streets of the townships.

When he was spotted by scouts from Chloorkop in 1989 he spent a year with the Sundowns under-19s in the reserve team, only training with the senior team and never playing a single game.

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"But when we started the new season in 1990, that's when things began to be serious," Masilela tells

"The likes of the late 'Eewie' Kambule were there, Mike 'Nanana' Ntombela, Lucky Molefe, Bricks [Johannes Mudau], Mark Anderson, Harris Choeu, Jazzy Queen [Harold Legodi], Zane Moosa...

"I earned very little by then but at the same time R250 was a lot in those days. I would buy myself some clothes with that R250. I never had any car, there was a bus that used to collect us for training sessions and camps and matches.

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"I bought my first car in 1993 when we won the league. That was my first league title, and that's when our salaries were increased. My salary was now about R3 500. You see there was a big difference hey? Those days R3 500 was a lot of money.

"My car instalment was R750. It was a City Golf, a brand new one. It was cheaper. The deposit was only R5 000.

"Remember there were bonuses for a win on top of that R3 500. The bonus was R500 for every win, meaning if you win four games you had an extra R2 000 on top of R 3500. It was a living wage.

"The most I earned in football was R10 000 at Sundowns from around '98, '99 and 2000."

Masilela features in the legendary Lovers Mohlala's Dream Team – check it out below!

After leaving Sundowns in 2002, Masilela headed up north to join Pietersburg Pillars in the National First Division for six months. Then Cape Town side Hellenic came calling in 2003, where he also spent six months.

"After Hellenic I retired. I said no, let me call it a day. The age was also a big factor you see, I was 36 then. I could feel my body was no longer allowing me to do some of my tricks on the field. I was becoming slow," he recalls.

"But you know I enjoyed everything in my football career to be honest because I did what I had to do in my career. I'm still living the legacy of my career. My career was a great journey.

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"I represented my country as well you see. I played against the best teams in the world, the likes of Germany. I played 17 times for Bafana Bafana."

Masilela won many trophies with Sundowns, some he can't even remember: "The league, Sparletta Challenge, BP Top 8, BobSave, Iwisa Charity Spectacular... I still have my medals."

'Fire' says Gaston Sirino is the only player in the PSL that is playing football like he used to in his heyday.

"You see this player, the one we got overseas, Sirino? Ya, he almost plays similar to me. Same style, very skilful and quick you see."

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Today Masilela works as a development coach at Sundowns, a job he enjoys doing.

"I'm so humbled and I'm so glad, I'm still working for Mamelodi Sundowns in the development academy. I'm a head coach of under-15. I feel happy because I'm doing what I love, what I played," he says.

"It's been eight years now. I'm being assisted by Teenage Dladla... hey I'm so blessed because I grew up admiring him, he was my role model and today he's my colleague. Hey that guy is a true legend.

"Ja no, these days I'm a husband, I'm married to a woman who takes care of me. I don't have children with her. My children are from my previous relationship and they have grown. My last-born is 19, she's doing her studies at TUT. My wife is self-employed, got her own company."

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