Throwback Thursday: Bernard Lushozi

Premiership

A self-confessed through-and-through Orlando Pirates supporter, Bernard 'Shoes' Lushozi retired from playing football at the age of 34 while on the books of the Buccaneers in 1998.

"I retired because I was getting slower because of ageing and the strikers were faster and faster, and I stopped going to training," Lushozi tells KickOff.com.

The tough-tackling former defender, known for his no-nonsense approach to the game, explains how he left Moroka Swallows for fellow Soweto rivals Pirates, where he enjoyed his football the most.

"I had just recovered from a career-threatening injury sustained in 1989 [at Swallows] when I was given a free clearance in 1990 and I joined Orlando Pirates in 1991. This free clearance was a blessing in disguise as I had the most wonderful time at Pirates."

Lushozi believes he was nicknamed 'Shoes' after former player Bernard 'Dancing Shoes' Hartze.

"I think because there was once a player who was Bernard 'Shoes', I forgot the surname, but I think I inherited this name from him. I also believe that football nicknames don't die, they are recycled from generation to generation."

Lushozi says he used scare tactics like not combing his hair for matches to intimidate opposition strikers.

"I did not want to look beautiful in front of the most dangerous strikers like [Marks] Maponyane, [Shane] McGregor, [Phil] Masinga, [Pitso] Mosimane, [Mike] Mangena and others. I had to look dread!"

Lushozi says it was at Pirates where he earned the most salary.

"From R800 to R1 200 at Swallows, [at Pirates] R2 500 and retired at R5 500, not so bad. Pirates paid for my school fees at Vista University, I can't complain. There was nothing to save except investing in getting education. I guess I was lucky to retire when I was already working as a teacher in Modderbee Prison."

These days Lushozi still work as a teacher to put bread on the table.

"I am a school principal in a school that caters for learners who are facing severe to profound intellectual disabilities. My daily responsibility is to make sure that such learners are taught functional skills to enable them to be integrated into the society. I am an advocate for people with intellectual disabilities," he explains.

"I have been married twice and have four children. I live the same way as I did before. During my playing time we did not see ourselves as celebrities even though we were loved by people for what we were doing. To this end, I have never lived as a celebrity. I live in Mondeor and work in Soweto, Albertina Sisulu Centre. I appreciate many wonderful experiences that football gave me, it's irreplaceable."

Asked for his thoughts on former teammate Marc Batchelor, who was gunned down recently, Lushozi had fond memories.

"Wow! A gentleman, a soccer star who was colourblind and full of love for mankind. We had a wonderful time when playing on the African continent with Batch. We were not scared of anything that walked on two legs while we conquered Africa, [even though] he was not brave enough to chill with foreign chicks!"

READ: Sebona recalls Batch, Naughty memories

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