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‘A Lot Of Clubs Put Me On Hold’

Don’t scoff at the Turkish Super Lig!

Lebo Phiri argues it remains one of the top football leagues in the world, though he admits his first preference was to stay in France.

He spent four years at EA Guingamp prior to signing for Caykur Rizespor three months ago to try get his career back on track again.

“I was injured for more than a year before my contract ended in France, and I had only the last seven games or so of the season under my belt to help the team stay up. Unfortunately, staying in France wasn’t really enough,” the 27-year-old told the Siya crew.

“The level that I had to hit to get to where I was before, will take a lot of time. In Ligue 1 the teams there were looking for products that were ready. I had a lot of clubs putting me on hold and time was something I didn’t have, and I was missing out on pre-season, especially after such a long injury. I waited for two months and only came to Turkey at the end of August.”

Guingamp were relegated to Ligue 2 prior to the pandemic and Phiri went down with them with the hope that they would fight their way up almost immediately.

That hasn’t happened – and the player spent the previous season, and a bit more, watching from the sidelines, which also cost him his Bafana Bafana spot.

“I felt like as much as Turkey might not be on the same level as French Ligue 1 football, it is still considered a top league. There are big names that come to this league and there’s also recognition from the other top leagues in the world, who find players here,” he said.

“You being closest to them could be another platform for you to take in pursuit of getting to play for those big teams. If not, my job is to perform well enough to get noticed by the team in Ligue 1 for them to see you still have that level and hasn’t dropped in any sense. Turkey is a sideways step for me, I don’t feel like it’s a backward one. This doesn’t mean I am giving up my ambitions.”

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