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Still In Touch With Gerald Modabi Part 3

Soccer Laduma’s ‘In Touch’ & ‘Still In Touch’ feature has been a fan favourite for almost two decades in Soccer Laduma’s weekly newspaper. 

Millions of readers turn to it first each week to read the crazy stories that Mzansi’s former players tell and to see current soccer stars dish the dirt on their teammates and coaches. 

Over the years, together with our readers, we have laughed uncontrollably and gasped with disbelief at stories that have never been told before!

Due to the incredible success and reading pleasure over the years and the timeless nature of this incredible content, Soccer Laduma has dug through the archives to bring back to life some of the gems you may have missed, or simply want to re-read and share with your friends. 

This week, we look back to 04 October 2017 in issue number 1043, where Gerald Modabi continued recalling funny stories from his playing days, with Gift Leremi still featuring prominently. Modabi was a close friend of the late ‘Voom Voom’, as Leremi was affectionately known, and says he was at most times at the mercy of the ex-Orlando Pirates darling. Modabi also has something to say about Jomo Sono… 

Still In Touch With Gerald Modabi (PART 3)

Gerald Modabi saw and did it all in his career as a professional footballer, a career that spanned 13 years. From his anecdotes in last week’s Still In Touch, it’s easy to tell he was very close to the late, great Gift Leremi. This week, he is back to tell us more crazy and intimate stories about ‘Continental’, the darling of South African football in his prime.

Jomo, we’re loving your stories, man. Seems like your former teammate, Gift Leremi, was a real character!

Ah, big, big, big player. I remember this other time when I didn’t want to go to the chesa nyama in 15th Avenue, Alexandra, because I was tired. Sometimes the only way to escape his madness was to lend him your car because he loved driving crazily and just enjoying his spare time. To him, any time was beer time and when you tried telling him to go easy on the waters of immortality, he’d say, “Ngizokubamba ngempama manje. Ngubani otshel’ umfundisi ukuthi aphuze nini itiye (I’m going to smack you right now. Who tells a pastor when to drink tea)? But when I drink beer, people want to talk. I’m one of the best players at Orlando Pirates. Those who don’t drink make a lot of mistakes on the field.” So on this particular day I told him I was not keen on going to the joint and I gave him my car to go and party. I told him, “Please don’t sleep out because I won’t have transport to go to training tomorrow morning.” He said, “No, I’ll be back.” Alas, in the morning, at around 07h10, there is no sight of Gift! At 07h30, Gift is still nowhere to be seen. We were living in the suburbs, south of Jozi. For the first time in a while, I was having a fresh Tuesday because I had not gone to 15th Avenue. I was excited and looking forward to go to work. But I didn’t have transport. Well, this means I might as well have gone to Alex then!

Ha, ha, true.

He did not stay far from me, so I figured “if the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain”. I went to his place and asked the security at the gate whether Gift was in and he said yes. He added, “We saw him now. He’s busy moving around the streets of the estate pushing a car.” I asked, “What make of car is that?” He said it was a yellow Mini Cooper. You can imagine the shock on my part because that was a new car! When I got there, I found a fu**ed-up Gift busy pushing the car for this friend of his that I didn’t even know to kick-start it. I realised ukuthi (that) there was a problem with the clutch and so the car needed to be returned to BMW and not to be pushed. But, wait a minute, Gift was not willing to take it back to BMW because he didn’t have money! So I took my own car back. I phoned BMW and they sent a tow truck to fetch the car. They fixed it. I paid about R13 000 because I still had R100 000 from my signing-on fee. But I wasn’t going to get the car back immediately, so we needed transport for the next two days. Gift then decided to go and borrow a red VW Golf from his mother-inlaw. She must have been a rare breed of motherin- law, because the last person you call on when in a fix is your mother-inlaw. We called the car ‘JD’ because that was its registration name. It was an old banger that had obviously seen better days. Gift’s driving was so rough that one time, while changing gears on our way from training, he ripped off the gear lever of the car. That’s how strong the boy was. Now we were driving at fifth gear and there was no way to change gears, ha, ha, ha.


Eventually the car had to come to a stop because we couldn’t do anything with it. Jislaaik, I had never pushed a car for so long a distance in my life! Remember that we had been dabbling in alcoholic drinks while enjoying the ride from training, so you can imagine I was sweating so much. I’m sure I slept for eight hours after I got home. He was not in the mood to call people and get help, despite the fact that Orlando Pirates loaded airtime on our cell phones every month. He was so stubborn. We had to push the car and I couldn’t suggest otherwise because, in that case, one thing was in store for me – he was going to beat meup! In camp, I made it a point that I would never share a room with him, threats of assault notwithstanding. I knew ukuthi he went out every night when we were in camp. If he didn’t go out, he would bring the nightclub to the hotel. Even in the midst of mynaughtiness, I still did not forget about my Venda upbringing, you know. I was scared about my father, a churchgoing person, reading negative things about me in the papers. On the other hand, Gift didn’t care.

That goes without saying.

I remember one time he decided he was not going out but he was going to bring the party to the hotel. He manipulated our then team manager, Shakes Mashaba, to put him and me as roommates. I don’t know how, but Bra Shakes agreed. We got to the Riverside Hotel in Durban and I realised I was sharing a room with Gift. I refused and said it’s not going to happen! I said, “Angekhe ngilale nalo muntu. (I’m never sleeping with this guy).” I saw that Excellent Walaza was busy talking too much with these other young boys and had not realised that the rooms had been allocated and were ready. I quickly ran, took my hotel card and swapped it with Walaza’s. So it looked like Walaza would share a room with Gift. I’ve never seen such a young boy so stressed! I went to chill with them in their room because I knew the party deal had been signed, sealed and was to be delivered. I just wanted to see Walaza’s facial expression when the party started. So, while he was relaxing nicely in the room and wanting to prepare for Golden Arrows, the ladies started flocking into the room. There were about eight of them. We thought they had lipstick and stuff in their handbags, but they had bottles of whiskey. Different kinds. This was all at Gift’s request. Somehow he had managed to deposit them the money. Walaza was unsettled. He pleaded for a straight “swap deal” between me and him in the room and I told him, “Angekhe ngiyenze leyonto. Angihlanyi mina. (Never. I’m not mad).” It was only en route the airport the next day that I told him I actually swapped those cards... ha, ha!

Later in your career, you played for Jomo Cosmos, under the watchful eye of the legendary Jomo Sono.

Ha, ha, he was crazy! The two of us fought a lot about the name. He went on national radio and said he was excited to have me at the club, but that I mustn’t get things twisted – there can’t be two Jomos in this country. He said that my new name would be Jama. We had this huge argument where he was saying he was the best free kick taker. I said to him, “I’m the best now. That’s why you’re paying my R50 000 salary twice a month.” I said that in front of the other players and he was very angry because there were players who were earning more than me but they were distressed that I was getting R50 000 a month. I wanted to get him in trouble by saying that. He said, “Uyaphapha wena! Ngingakubhatala R50 000 unje? Awuziboni ukuth’ unjani wena? Uzenz’ uBamuza wena. Ucabang’ ukuthi ungumntana wami wena. Uzobona ngizokwenzani (You’re too forward. How can I pay you R50 000? Look at yourself. You think you’re Bamuza, my child. You’ll see what I’m going to do to you).”


Still In Touch Fun Facts

Best player I’ve ever faced: Gift Leremi

Best player I’ve played with: Myself

Biggest pay cheque: R38 000

Smallest pay cheque: R1 500

Favourite current player: Happy Jele

Current occupation: Founder of Crucial Zone Free Kick Centre

Former teams: SuperSport United, Silver Stars, Orlando Pirates Jomo Cosmos, Bidvest Wits, Dynamos


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