Former Bafana striker Katlego ‘Killer’ Mphela has opened up on the disappointment of being denied an opportunity to move to Europe by his former club Mamelodi Sundowns.
The 35-year-old, who recently called time on his carreer, spent six years at the Chloorkop outfit between 2008 and 2014, where he had gained a reputation for being one of the most lethal strikers in the country.
Mphela was the man chosen by then coaches Joel Santana and Carlos Alberto Parreira respectively, to lead Bafana’s front line in the 2009 Confederations Cup as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup staged in South Africa.
Despite Bafana’s failure to progress, the striker delivered on his promise and enjoyed a stellar Confed Cup, scoring a scorcher past Spain in a group stage match.
Mphela’s scintillating performances had put him on the radar of some of Europe’s top clubs; however, a move never materialized for the man born in Brits, North West. Instead, he made a move to Kaizer Chiefs.
Speaking to his former teammate Kagisho Dikgacoi on an Instagram live, ‘Killer’ opened up on his European heartbreak, and his failed trial at Glascow Celtic in Scotland.
“What happened with the Celtic move it was two years after the World Cup. All this time before and after the World Cup I had so many solid offers on the table. Not trials, but offers where it just needed to be negotiated and it wasn’t just any teams, there were quite a few from different countries. I even had an offer from Birmingham City who were playing in the Premier League and then Sundowns did not want to sell or negotiate.
"After the World Cup, life went on then I got an injury where I had to undergo an operation on my knee. It was a problem that I had before the World Cup but Carlos Alberto Parreira said I should not do the operation. I said 'its ok this is the World Cup I need to play'.
"So I played (in) the World Cup with that injury, and another season with Sundowns before we decided I’ll do the operation. I didn’t know that the injury was serious so the operation took nine months to heal, almost the whole season. I came back and started training. Now remember offers were rejected, but I still wanted to leave, I still wanted to go overseas, there were still offers coming in.
“They decided that it was time for me to go on trial in Scotland. There were teams like Dynamo Kiev and Maccabi Haifa who were interested and it didn’t make sense that they would not accept guaranteed money, instead they want me to go for something that’s not guaranteed in a smaller country, so you can ask yourself what was that all about.
“When I got to Celtic I wasn’t fit, I haven’t played any matches and they just finished their pre-season, in South Africa we only started ours. When I got there, It was a different level. When I look back at it, I see those people were not even talented. (Had i been) fit, I would have walked into that team. I couldn’t understand how Sundowns could send me for trials when I was unfit,” Mphela said.
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