I’ve decided to deviate from the usual column format this week. I was going to pen my thoughts on Teko Modise’s weekend goal celebration and whether it was a sign of the player getting fed up at the club.
As I started hammering away at my keyboard, news of Teko signing a new three-year deal was announced. I picked up the phone to the player’s agent who confirmed the information. My immediate reaction was ‘Why?’ Why would a player who has been given such a hard time by a section of the Sundowns fans, who has even been identified as ‘the curse’ that is preventing the club from winning anything, agree to an extended stay?
To answer this question, I hand over to Jazzman Mahlakgane to explain the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of Teko’s new deal.
Thanks for giving us the opportunity to clarify this matter. It’s important to get on record that Teko’s contract was not up. This mistruth was causing uneasiness for the Sundowns supporters and it was starting to become a problem for the player. Many supporters were not aware that Teko was still contracted to the club for another year. I told that to so many publications but the message did not get out.
The last time I spoke to you, Jazzman, you said there was no rush for a new contract. That by South African standards, there was lots of time before getting to that point.
Well, Clint, I had to look at this one-year option that had been exercised by the club in a business light. What did it mean for my player? How did this affect Teko? Also, how would it affect the club? I mean, when your captain has one year left, that becomes the focus for the next season and puts pressure on the club and the player when all the focus should just be on playing.
Fair point. Most clubs are reluctant to even discuss a new deal until the last six months of a player’s contract. How did Sundowns react to the request for a new contract offer?
The Sundowns management were great in this negotiation. They warmed to the idea of a new contract. Yogesh Singh (Sundowns Senior Legal Manager) was open to negotiating the new deal from day one. He told me the club liked the idea, and wanted to talk numbers. There was some back and forth communication and then last Friday I got a call from Yogesh telling me the club were happy with our counteroffer and that Monday morning we would sign the new contract. It was a very smooth process and I commend them on the way they do business.
So Sundowns were happy to keep a top class player, but is this the deal that Teko wanted?
Teko is now comfortable with the idea that he has a club, that he isn’t playing for a contract, or wondering where he will be in the next couple of months. Also his teammates, the players that he leads as captain of the team, can now trust that his full commitment is with the club and that he wants to be their leader.
The obvious question then is, if he is happy to stay at the club, why then the manner of celebration when he scored on the weekend? Clearly his actions were that of a very frustrated player.
Sundowns supporters love Teko, fact. I think management have taken this decision to hand him a new contract because they understand and respect that the fans love Teko. Supporters can sometimes be misinformed and then form a wrong opinion. For example, Teko likes to go salute supporters and say thank you after a game. To some supporters they saw this as a sign that Teko was leaving. That he is coming to say goodbye after each game. This made them angry and some even turned against him. Not because they hate him, but because they love him and don’t want to see him go. That incident on Sunday was unfortunate, it shouldn’t have happened. I don’t want to comment too much on it. That is for the club to handle.
So this isn’t about the money, it’s because Teko wants to be at Sundowns?
Teko is 180% committed to the club and loves the club. I just hope they (some supporters) stop with this trend of booing top players in South Africa. It is killing players. Look at what it has done to Killer Mphela. Players lose their confidence at key moments. Look at Kaizer Junior, a top striker who was scoring goals, and then the booing started and he has had to start afresh. As a soccer lover, I plead with you to stop this booing or Teko could be next.
Jazzman, I don’t have to tell you that money excites people. The crazy fact is we know more about what players in the EPL earn and what they cost a club than we do about our own PSL. Can you share the details of the signing-on fee and the salary or do we still steer clear of that here in South Africa?
Players in South Africa aren’t ready to know what their peers earn, Clint. The false numbers that have been attributed to Teko in the past have not sat well with some people. I won’t divulge what contract he is on. Suffice to say we are happy with the contract and Teko will be at the club until 2016.
Jazz, thanks for taking the time to talk us through the deal. I hope to see Teko back at his best. He has so much to offer this country. Teko, if you’re reading this, and I know you are, it’s time to take it to the next level, mate. Make this country fall in love with you again.