Former Orlando Pirates midfielder Lebohang 'Cheeseboy' Mokoena has opened up about the hurt he endured when several potential moves to Europe were blocked.
Mokoena made a name for himself at Pirates after being promoted to the senior team at the age of 16, but even before then he attracted interest from Spanish LaLiga side Deportiva La Coruna.
Suffice to say, the move did not materialise and he has since revealed the details behind the missed opportunity after he had impressed with an invitational Jomo Cosmos side in France back in 2003.
"That was the time when I had the opportunity of joining Deportivo La Coruna after they spotted me playing in a tournament in France for Jomo Cosmos,” Mokoena said in the July edition of KICK OFF Magazine.
“Deportivo wanted me to leave Pirates on the spot but at that time I had not signed a professional contract yet.
“When I came back, I was offered a first-team contract and the chairman [Irvin Khoza] told me that before I go overseas I need to start here first and build my brand, then in years to come I will then leave.
“At that age, all you care about is bettering your skills. I could feel there was something different about Europe compared to what we had back home, and I felt the urge to play there.
“When Bra J [Jomo Sono] was told about Deportivo, there was nothing he could do because I was a Pirates player, so he referred them to Pirates.
“That was the last I heard of it, plus I never followed it up because my mind also changed when I started playing in the [Pirates] first team.”
The 33-year-old, who is currently captain of GladAfrica Championship side Swallows FC, also revealed failed attempts from several other teams to land his signature.
“Maybe it wasn’t meant to be because all my deals to Deportivo, Al Ahly [Egypt], Auxerre, Strasbourg [both France] and Benfica [Portugal] never happened,” he added.
“Benfica showed interest in me after I played for Bafana Bafana against Mexico at the CONCACAF Gold Cup [in 2005], but nothing happened because Pirates requested that I return early to come and play in the Vodacom Challenge.”
Read more on Cheeseboy's journey from Pirates to Sundowns, to now being on the verge of helping Swallows return to the top-flight in the July edition of KICK OFF - get a digital copy here!