You’ve probably lost count of the number of players that were assessed by Highlands Park and failed to get a deal.
Mandla Masango. Mark Mayambela. James Okwuosa. Sifiso Myeni. Vuyo Mere. Edwin Gyimah. The list goes on.
There are many reasons why the above-mentioned footballers couldn’t secure deals.
It could be failing to agree terms or simply not doing enough at training to convince the technical team, led by Owen Da Gama.
But 37-year-old Reneilwe Letsholonyane succeeded where many failed and was offered a deal in September, which he duly signed, for the 2019/2020 Absa Premiership season. He’s played five games so far.
‘Yeye’ has attributed his lifestyle for prolonging his stay in the topflight, which is approximately 15 years from his days at Jomo Cosmos, Kaizer Chiefs and more recently, SuperSport United.
It’s the same work ethic that saw him play 54 times for Bafana Bafana.
“I would like to believe gore (that) with the football ability that I have, I back it up with hard work… I always try to do things properly,” Letsholonyane told FARPost.co.za on the sidelines of the launch of the Discovery Walter Sisulu Challenge in Sandton, Johannesburg, on Monday.
He previously featured in the tournament during his time with PJ Stars.
“So for me it’s about doing it the right way or I mustn’t do it at all. I think what convinced Highlands Park is that they saw the hard work I put in and saw the commitment,” said Letsholonyane, who was without a team for a couple of months following his departure from SuperSport United.
The Jabavu-born, Soweto, midfielder revealed that Da Gama was shocked that he kept up with the pace at training despite not training in a team environment for a while. He had relied on jogging to stay fit before he started training with the Lions of the North.
“I obviously wasn’t where they were (in terms of fitness), because they did pre-season and I didn’t, but fitness-wise I wasn’t bad.
“Even the technical team and the coach (Da Gama) were shocked with the condition I was in, because they didn’t expect me to be where I was considering I wasn’t training for weeks or months.
“But for me, I don’t really have an off-season. Maybe I would sit and do nothing for three days after the season ends, but after that I would go to gym, even though I’m not doing a whole lot of things.
“I don’t just go to training or gym, because it’s my job. I do that even when we are not playing.”
So how long can Letsholonyane go before retiring?
“I don’t know,” he laughed.
Well, at the rate he’s going, there are no signs that he may call it a day soon.
DID YOU KNOW?
In 2013, ex Bafana goalkeeper Andre Arendse played for Bidvest Wits at the age of 45, making him the oldest to feature in the Premier Soccer League (PSL). Arendse was almost 46 (45 years, 10 months and four days) when he took to the field in Wits’ 2-1 win over University of Pretoria. Arendse was in fact retired, but came back to help Wits out as an emergency goalkeeper after some injuries to their goalkeepers.
He overtook fellow keeper Bruce Grobbelaar, who played for Hellenic aged 44, against Kaizer Chiefs, in 2002.
By Tiyani wa ka Mabasa