Siphiwe Tshabalala has offered some sobering advice to his fellow footballers, warning of the dangers of retiring "poor".
The 35-year-old has become a philanthropist and businessman all in one, while still very determined to return to the pitch again before calling time on his career – and after more than a decade at the highest level he’s picked up a few tips.
“The investment topic is one I am passionate about and want to bring about a change. It’s very deep, in the sense that we only judge footballers when things are okay or they are successful. We don’t focus on their upbringing, their journey as beginners as well because this plays a huge role in how things turn out,” the former Kaizer Chiefs star said during a press conference with the SA Football Journalists’ Association.
“We come from different families – you have been playing football all your life without getting a cent. Then all of a sudden you get a salary, you become overwhelmed by that and you want to improve your life as well, which is normal. But there are a lot of temptations.”
He added: “Some of us had to start taking care of our families before we could take care of ourselves. It’s always been like that. By the time you take care of yourself it’s too late. But we must change the narrative as well and not focus on the cars and the nice life – only to retire poor. It’s a worry.”
‘Shabba’ argued that football is being left behind compared to other sporting codes in the country, and he knows this first hand.
“The opportunities we have as footballers are not same as rugby and cricket. They are being mentored at an early age, introduced to the corporate world. That’s why you find a 19-year-old playing for the reserves, but he has a sponsored vehicle. A big superstar playing for Chiefs, well known, he can’t even get one. We need financial literacy. I’ve made bad decisions in investments and learnt from that.”
Tshabalala urged footballers to think beyond their playing days when they are putting pen to paper on new lucrative deals.
“You might earn R2-million per annum, it’s okay, but it won’t sustain you post retirement. I made a call to the government that if you earn that much, they can’t put you on the same bracket as the executives and CEOs. The benefits are different. You are on a short-term contract, and your career is short,” he explained.
“They have a long career, plus they have pension benefits. We don’t have that – we have to make provision for ourselves. We were not taught this. We learnt along the way. Football is short-lived, but we need a long-term plan.”
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