Jabu Mahlangu, a player who has admitted to having a brief football career because of his alcohol and substance abuse, recently detailed his life in the fast lane and warned the current generation to make better choices.
‘Shuffle’ began his professional career at Kaizer Chiefs aged 19, but despite his obvious talent his stint there was marred by wayward behaviour – and Mahlangu has used his experiences ever since to advice his peers and the younger generation.
On Thursday, the 39-year-old joined coaches Steve Komphela, Gordon Igesund and ex-Chiefs teammate Doctor Khumalo at an event hosted by Diageo SA to address alcohol abuse, particularly among footballers.
It was there that Mahlangu relieved his troubled past, which cut short several chances from more than four clubs at the height of his playing career.
“I was not only drinking too much, but I also started doing drugs and the day the Orlando Pirates chairman, Irvin Khoza, came to sign me with Screamer Tshabalala, I had blacked out for three days,” said Mahlangu.
He said he was lucky to have stayed alive during those days.
“You should see the two cars I crashed and left right there in the middle of the road. How I was able to survive those accidents is God’s miracle. I shouldn’t be alive. But I think my purpose was to live and tell these stories and not play football for long.”
Mahlangu played for Chiefs, Pirates and SuperSport United among the top sides in Mzansi, while he also had brief spells in Austria and Sweden. He played for Bafana Bafana at the 2002 World Cup, having been part of the Olympic team two years earlier, and he was only 30-years-old when his career was all but over.