Throwback Thursday: Mongi Rula

Former Bush Bucks star Mongi Rula retired from playing football at the age of 28 in the 1999/00 season because of a knee problem.

Bucks was the only Premiership side Rula ever played for in his career. In 2001 while in Durban he joined First Division club Zulu Royals but could not play for long because of his knee problem.

"There was a league here in Transkei, our team from Lusikisiki competed in that league. That's where Bush Bucks spotted me in 1992, during a final against Tembu Royals, we lost that game 3-2. I got there when they were still called Umtata Bush Bucks, it would change to Umtata Bucks," Rula tells KickOff.com.

"There was a rumour that Kaizer Chiefs and Jomo Cosmos wanted me, maybe they spoke to the club and the club turned them away, I'm not sure what really happened there. I enjoyed my football at Bush Bucks though. We had this good relationship there because we were staying in the same area, we were not just teammates, we were also friends. That's what made us so hot.

"I started with R1 500 a month there at Bush Bucks in 1992, by the time I retired it was R8 500. It was a lot my brother because I was a bread winner at home, I would help and save some for myself. Saving money is not easy my brother, even those days it was the same, just like now."

These days Rula works as a Chief of Emketengeni Village.

"Now I'm a Chief me." He says, "When you are a Chief your duties are like those of a Ward Councillor. Your job is to take care of the community. When people have problems they come to you so you can speak to the relevant department on their behalf. Maybe they are starving or don't have IDs, you go to the Home Affairs to get them help.

"A Chief gets his salary from the government just like a Ward Councillor. I am from a Royal Family. My grandfather was a Chief, my father was a Chief, so I followed. I am married but there are small issues between me and my wife, we've separated. I have two children, a girl and a boy."

Rula says a lot has changed now in his lifestyle compared to the time when he was a celebrity, as most people no longer recognise him.

"I'm living a normal life now. Those days when I was a celebrity people could recognise me no matter how far I would be. People would ask for your autograph and ask you about your recent game. Most of the people who are football fans currently have never seen me play. Those who know me are the older generation. My only regret in football is not being able to go play overseas."

Rula says he still has both Coca Cola Cup medals he won with Buck Bucks in 1993 and 1996.

"I've still got my medals. I won the Coca Cola Cup in 1993, I won it again in 1996. The match I will never forget is the one against Hellenic in 1993 in the quarterfinals of the Coca Cola. I was introduced during half-time. Hellenic were leading us 1-0. I created two goals and we beat them 4-1." 

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