Mark Haskins played his last ever professional match in a Nedbank Cup Final when he played 120 minutes for SuperSport United against Kaizer Chiefs, something that by his own admission, came as a complete shock.
The 39-year-old enjoyed a 12-year career in which he turned out for teams like Jomo Cosmos, Moroka Swallows, SuperSport United and Bidvest Wits.
Speaking to the Siya crew, the versatile former midfielder who these days works as a coach and a television pundit reveals how his career came to an unexpected end at the tender age of 32.
“My career ended in the blink of an eye to be honest. I wasn't ready to retire. Everyone asks me always why I retired, was I injured? I mean, my last game as a professional was a Nedbank Cup final. A packed house Moses Mabhida Stadium with SuperSport united verses Kaizer Chiefs, There was not a seat left in the house, and that was my swansong.
“SuperSport didn't renew my contract, and I figured somebody will pick me up, but nobody did. I have no idea why to this day. I can't tell you what the reasons are, but I could not find a team after that I was 32 years old, I was in my prime. I was still playing great football, but nobody would pick me up. That's how my career ended. Not because I wasn't able to play, but there weren’t any teams, I guess. There wasn't space for me anymore, whatever the case may be, but I wasn't ready for that.”
Haskins has advised current players to start thinking about life beyond football, even when they are still playing. As the old adage goes, ‘nothing lasts forever’
“No footballer wants to think of the end. However, we have to. We have to start planning for it because it is going to end at some point. The worst is when it ends unexpectedly, when it ends when you are not ready for it to end, that's the worst thing. It has happened to so many people. Their careers and when they are not very productive and it's horrifying and a dreadful experience,” Haskins concluded.