Known and hailed as a protégé for his natural ability and his knack for the flamboyant, former Ajax Cape Town midfielder, Junaid Hartley held nothing back and laid it all out to Soccer Laduma’s David Minchella in a recent interview.
He revealed how signing for Orlando Pirates was one of his biggest career moves and the impact of substance abuse on his professional career.
“Fortunately, Rob Moore got me on loan to Seven Stars in Cape Town. That’s where my form picked up again,” he explains.
“I probably played the best football of my life there. The mistake I made is that, when Cape Town Spurs and Stars merged, instead of taking the Ajax Cape Town deal, I took the offer from Orlando Pirates. That’s where I got it wrong,” Hartley discloses.
"I’m a football guy. I played for Ajax again later in my career. I realised only later how much I missed out on playing for an institute of football. It was the Ajax formation, the passing game and the movement those things were natural for me. It was incredible because everyone is on the same wavelength!"
"At Pirates I didn’t get enough game-time because there was a dispute between them and Lens about who owned me, so for one and a half years I didn’t play. The frustration I went through is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. The team wins trophies and it’s like you’re there but you’re not." he explains.
Hartley also notes how this decision affected his personal llife at home.
"I got married at 21 and the frustrations at Pirates led to issues at home, because my income wasn’t the same. Pirates had stopped paying me. Can you blame them? They didn’t know who I belonged to and they couldn’t use me," he reveals.
"I had no money and I had a house and a car to pay for. This caused frustration which could’ve led to the break-up of my first marriage. Then I went back to the lifestyle I was living before I got married. I signed for Moroka Swallows and the money started coming in. Now I had my cars and my house was sorted out. The ladies started to flow in again. The football was good and I was getting over the depression of being divorced. This is when I got caught up again in the playboy lifestyle," he tells Soccer Laduma.
To read more on what happened to him during his stay at Pirates and how drugs affected his family and football, read the full gripping interview in issue 910 of Soccer Laduma.