Known as “Midnight Express” for his on-field prowess, Helman Mkhalele, who in his capacity as a mentor in the Nedbank’s Ke Yona Ring of Steel, spoke to the 2016 Ke Yona Team Search players at an educational session held at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria.
The former Bafana Bafana midfielder, who was part of the Orlando Pirates team that won the 1994 National Soccer League and 1995 Africa Cup of Nations, trail blazed the way for many who followed in his footsteps, going on to an international career which spanned six successful years.
“Joining the Ring of Steel and having the opportunity to mentor these new up and coming players is an opportunity for me to give back by imparting my knowledge and lessons learnt to a new generation of players,” said Mkhalele, pointing out that this Ring of Steel is unique from other developmental initiatives because it helps players on an elite PSL level who are exposed to many challenges both on and off the field.
During the session, Mkhalele spoke to the Ke Yona players about his journey as a professional football player, including his achievements and struggles.
“Once you become a soccer star, that is when the hard work starts,” he says.
“Girls will be throwing themselves on you, friends, especially not so good friends, come to you and give you advice that could hinder your progress, all eyes are on you.
''The pressure that always comes with fame is that you end up feeling you are above the law because, wherever you go people are greeting and praising you,'' he continued.
"It is important for players to realise: Yes, I have this name that everyone knows but I must make sure that I deserve their respect and that I return that respect,” he concluded.