Tlhomelang, who was strong left-back in his day, was banned for two years in 2009 after he tested positive for cocaine. He returned to play for Mpumalanga Black Aces and hung up his boots in 2012.
Some of Tlhomelang’s highlights include being part of Stuart Baxter’s Cosafa Cup squad in 2005. Bafana Bafana lost the semi finals against Zambia on penalties after the game finished 2-2.
Tlhomelang signed his first professional contract with Jomo Cosmos in 1996 and says being coached by Jomo Sono was special.
He went on to win the Coca-Cola Cup in 2002 when Ezenkosi defeated Kaizer Chiefs 1-0, thanks to a goal from Mozambican striker Manual ‘Tico-Tico’ Bucuane. He also played the Buccaneers, where he won the league title under Roy Barreto, and Bloemfontein Celtic.
His career, however, did not take the route he had imagined and he has regrets.
“If you remember after the promotion of Mpumalanga Black Aces in 2009 they gave me a big contract,” Tlhomelang tells KickOff.com.
“It was a three-year contract and in that two years I lost a lot of money. My car was repossessed and I lost my house. I still say if it wasn’t for drugs, I could have been better. But now I’ve been clean for more than nine years.”
In 2013 Tlhomelang, who is based in the North West province, established the Lucas Tlhomelang Foundation, a NGO where he shares his story on how drugs affected him.
“I go around here in Taung and do coaching clinics at schools and tell my story about the dangers of drugs,” he reveals.
“As you know I was banned in 2009 for using cocaine, so I go around schools and do motivational talks and tell them to focus on their education and stay away from bad things.
“Before the end of this year, I’ll be opening the Lucas Tlhomelang football academy in Ganyesa. I just got a big land there, where we are going to build the centre.
“It will not only focus on football; it’s also going to have netball and basketball. We just want to encourage people to go to school and take education seriously.
“Lastly, I just urge everyone from government to partner with us as former players, so that we can drive this initiative of taking kids off the streets.
“We need government to get involved because this foundation is a non-profit organisation.”