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 08 January 2014 in issue number 853, where Thapelo Liau continued with his “Still In Touch” interview. In it, he gave readers a peek into life as a footballer in the olden days, especially off the field. There are stories on Kenny Ndlazi, Luc Zoa, Thabang Lebese and others. Sit back, relax and enjoy!
Still In Touch With…THAPELO LIAU (PART 2)
Thapelo Liau, a former dribbling wizard who never really fulfilled his huge potential, says he has no regrets about his football career. “I don’t really regret anything. Most people thought that from Ria Stars I should have gone to Kaizer Chiefs or Mamelodi Sundowns, but you never know in football. My family and I thought Orlando Pirates was the right place for me. In fact, I did enjoy myself at Pirates and the supporters loved me and even today when they meet me, they show me love,” he reveals.
Season’s greetings, Abuti Bula Boot! Please continue sharing some of the funny moments you enjoyed in the game.
Heita, Lunga! Well, the first story is about Lekgwathi at Ria Stars. We were playing in the Telkom Charity Cup at FNB Stadium and I remember the other three teams that were there were Chiefs, Moroka Swallows and Mamelodi Sundowns. We were playing Swallows in the first game and were getting kitted out in the dressing room. Lekgwathi used to wear jersey number 9, but that day the guys who printed the jerseys made a mistake and assigned jersey number 18 to him. The referees were about to come and check us in the dressing room and Lucky was angry. He was busy fighting and telling everyone that he wasn’t gonna change until he got his number 9 jersey, ha, ha, ha. Remember he was our key defender, so everyone was panicking. Sydney Moshikaro and I had to take him aside to convince him to get changed for the game... and you know what we told him? We said to him, “Lucky, you have become a great player now. That’s why they gave you number 18. 9 plus 9 equals 18.” Ha, ha, ha!
We used to have gatherings at the townhouse that Moshikaro and I stayed in and we’d invite our teammates to come and chill with us. I remember one time it was Thursday and on Saturday we were playing Bloemfontein Celtic. We were chilling at home with Sydney and decided to have a braai for supper, so we called a few of our teammates to come and join us. We were surprised to see guys coming in numbers. I mean, almost the whole team was there and it ended up like a party! The late Thabang Lebese was our captain at the time and the coach was Kenny Ndlazi. After eating, Thabang left us to go to his place and then he called Bro Kenny and told him that the whole team was having a party at our place. The following day (Friday) at training we were all surprised that we were doing non-stop running and didn’t touch the ball until the end of the session. Bro Kenny was angry with me and Sydney, but he didn’t want to show it. During the team talk on the Saturday, he told me to mark Celtic’s Ace Gulwa tightly. Remember I was a playmaker in the team, so I told him, “No, Bro Kenny, I’m not going to mark anyone. These people must mark me.” The game started, and guess what happened? Our guys were all underperforming. It was me and Sydney who were playing well. The score was 0-0 at halftime and in the dressing room Bro Kenny said, “The whole team is carrying Thapelo and Sydney! They’re doing nothing!” Ha, ha, ha. Everyone was surprised because we were the only players doing well. We were very angry and wanted to be substituted, but Elasto Lungu convinced us to continue playing. We ended up beating Celtic 3-0. Sydney and I were too hot to handle that day, as I scored one and created two goals. On the Monday at training Bro Kenny came straight to me, gave me R500, and said, “You were my Man of the Match!” Ha, ha, ha. I must say the man knew how to get the best out of us.
Another incident I remember happened at Orlando Pirates. We were playing in the Vodacom Challenge in Durban. Remember it was Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and two teams from the DRC who took part, so on the Friday, all the teams were invited to a gala dinner. We were playing Chiefs the following day. There was this player called Luc Zoa playing for us, he was from Cameroon and he was a giant. We were sitting down and eating with the Chiefs players when all of a sudden Jabu Pule just stood up, went straight to Luc Zoa and said, “My friend, even with this huge body of yours, you won’t be able to mark me.” Luc Zoa became angry and wanted to kill Jabu there and then, ha, ha, ha. We had to stop him. After the gala dinner we went to the hotel to sleep and I was sharing a room with Luc Zoa. Let me tell you, we were in the room and the man was still angry. He didn’t want to sleep. He was doing push-ups, sit-ups and frog jumps, telling me that the next day he was going to eat Jabu alive! Remember the guy was pitch-black in complexion and was such a giant and I was afraid that he would end up beating Jabu. I asked him to calm down and go to sleep. Come the day of the game, Jabu mesmerised him and he was substituted early in the second half. After the game the man was quiet and didn’t want to speak to us, ha, ha, ha!
Like I told you, we played Chiefs in the first leg of the Rothmans Cup and beat them 1-0. The second leg was at Johannesburg Stadium and we were travelling in this old ugly bus. It didn’t even have air conditioning or a toilet. We got into the stadium at the same time as Chiefs, who were travelling in a luxury bus. When we came out, we bumped into Doctor Khumalo and he said, “Yho, guys, I thought this bus had the security guards in it.” Ha, ha, ha. After the away games, Thabang, Frank Makua, Thembinkosi Biyela, Abram Khwenenyane and I used to travel in one car. It was Thabang’s car. One time we were playing African Wanderers and, during halftime, Thabang said he was going home, ha, ha, ha. I think the coach took him off and he wasn’t happy. We realised this was going to pose serious problems for those of us travelling with him and actually Biyela wanted to go off as well. Ha, ha, Biyela didn’t want to return for the second half. But those were good times, man.
Apparently you weren’t on good terms with Jan ‘Malombo’ Lechaba, who was the assistant coach at the time.
Look, we were playing Chiefs in the Rothmans Cup and I had forgotten my boots, so he gave me his boots. I scored the winning goal in the dying minutes of the game and then he said to me afterwards, “It’s not you who scored. It’s my boots.” I thought he was joking, but the man was serious. Every time I got the ball at training and passed it, he would say, “Stop! No, Thapelo! What is that? You must dribble. You have the ability.” When I got the ball and tried dribbling, he’d stop training and say, “You must pass the ball.” So the one time I got really frustrated, picked up the ball and said, “You know what, Jan? You must f**k off! I’m not afraid of you. If you want to fight, let’s fight.” Ever since that day he became my number one supporter. He’d even go as far as telling the other players, “This man knows football.” I just think he was afraid of me, ha, ha.
STILL IN TOUCH FUN FACTS:
Best player I’ve ever faced: Doctor Khumalo
Best player I’ve played with: Sydney Moshikaro
Biggest pay cheque: R40 000
Smallest pay cheque: R2 500
Former team that used the most muti: Orlando Pirates
Favourite current player: Teko Modise & Siphiwe Tshabalala
Current occupation: Self-employed
Former teams: Bloemfontein Celtic, Ria Stars, Orlando Pirates, Moroka Swallows