At the age of 27, Ayanda Patosi has reached a stage in his career where ‘securing the bag’ is the ultimate goal in order to free his family financially.
When Patosi moved to Iran, he shocked the South African football fraternity.
“Football can take you into a different direction and sometimes where you don’t want to go,” said Patosi.
A number of South African footballers have opened up in the past about the financial struggles they face, soon after retiring. Hence, Patosi is driven by the fear of seeing his family suffer while he is still breathing.
“I’m here because of money, at the end of the day. Most footballers get into the game because they have to feed their families and the love they have for football,” Patosi told the South African Football Journalists’ Association (SAFJA).
“But the longer I’ve stayed here, I’ve started to enjoy football in Iran.”
Patosi moved to Belgium as an 18-year-old back in 2011 and played football in the county for seven years in the colours of KSC Lokerens before taking a flight back to South Africa to join Cape Town City, now on loan to Foolad FC.
“I grew up wanting to play in the top four leagues in the world and, in the first two years there, I was doing well in Belgium, before suffering an injury that took me out for about seven to nine months,” he said.
“I struggled to come back and find good form for about a year. I can honestly say I didn’t do enough to earn a move to the top leagues but I managed to stay in Belgium before going home and playing for Cape Town City.
“In my view, going to some places like Kuwait, Qatar, China and Dubai, when you’re 28 or 29 and you know you haven’t made it to a big European league, is the better option than staying in Belgium,” added the left-winger.
“But when you’re younger, you have to give Europe a try and try to make the top five leagues in the world. There are loads of footballers who have suffered at the end of their careers because they were afraid to go and play in Muslim countries.
Patosi admits that life is not easy when you move away from your family and you go and experience a different culture.
“Who knew that I would play in Iran? I don’t think any South African thought I would play here but I made the choice because I have a family to feed at the end of the day and they are depending on me.
“You have to forget about Khayelitsha’s tshisa nyamas and you have to go there and try to achieve what you want and meet your goals. It helps a lot to try enjoy your new environment, try to speak the language, enjoy the weather and the food and culture,” concluded Patosi.
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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi