A former Moroka Swallows and Mamelodi Sundowns star has opened up about the struggles he encountered when he earned a meagre R3 500 salary as a professional footballer.
During his time as a professional footballer, Lungisani Ndlela starred as a striker who scored goals for Swallows in the 2003/2004 season, before making a move to SuperSport United.
The lanky forward went on to play for Sundowns, before going back to the Dube Birds towards the end of his career, having also represented the national team at some stage.
Speaking to the Siya crew, Ndlela who now works for the Department of Correctional Services as a prison warder, has opened up about his struggles Swallows.
“It was R3 500 when I started at Swallows in 2003 and it was difficult for me to survive. My situation was made to look and feel better by the fact that I went to stay with the team manager. Mr (Bernard) Mtshali was the team manager at the time,” said Ndlela.
“I was told later that I should move on and get my own place but I asked them how did they expect me to get a place of my own to stay with such a small salary. I had a chat with Albert Kometsi who was my teammate at the time and I told him, ‘Ndoda (man), I am earning this little and I can’t do anything about it because I am new in the team and all I am trying to do is to play football and make a name for myself.’ Albert used to live in a two-bedroom flat on his own at the time. I pleaded with Albert to allow me to stay with him and I offered to buy the groceries with the little money that I was earning. Albert was very helpful and would even offer me a lift to training in his car and things like that. He understood my situation and never had a problem with me or saw me as a burden,” he added.
“It was only after I became a regular in the team and was scoring goals that Swallows called me and offered to improve my contract. But what was strange is that the money they offered was still little. I rejected their offer. I mean, they were still offering me a less than R15 000 monthly salary and I told them straight that I wasn’t taking anything less than what the other regulars were getting. There were a lot of players there who were on huge salaries and some of them were not even playing. I was playing regularly but getting paid peanuts. I had responsibilities and had to send money home and to also look after myself to be presentable as a professional footballer. How would I have done all those things? Imagine travelling in a taxi as a professional footballer with people pointing at you and saying, ‘That is Ndlela and he is in a taxi.’ When I travelled back home I relied on Goodman Mazibuko for a lift. He would drop me home on his way to Qwaqwa. He was also a good friend of mine and used to encourage me a lot on a lot of things about life. But I must add that I was under a lot of pressure at home because as someone they used to see on TV they thought I had a lot of money. The expectations were huge,” Ndlela concluded.
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