Playing football at the top level is one of the best ways to earn millions in this day and age, but contrary to popular belief not all football players remain wealthy for the rest of their lives. There are many things that can go wrong.
Apart from that a football career isn’t sustainable forever as players get older; they get slower and younger players who have more kilometres in their legs come along all the time.
The money comes in fast in the big leagues, but it can go away even faster for those players who don’t learn how to handle their cash and who make unwise investments with the money they earn.
When you are at the top of the football world, it can be easy to forget about the real value of money and start spending more than you realistically can. Likewise, most players forget to plan for the future. Once their playing days are over, they rely on the money they have in their bank account to keep up with their lavish lifestyle.
Lavish spending and lack of financial planning have led many world famous players from riches to rags throughout history. So what are some of the reasons why many footballers often go broke after their career ends?
Top 10 SA Footballers Who Have Gone Broke
10 Jethro Mohlala
Often referred to as “Lovers”, Jethro Mohlala is one of many South African players who let his fame get the better of him. In 1997, Jethro joined the Mamelodi Sundowns and quickly became a star in South Africa.
This stardom would cost him dearly as he quickly allowed women and parties to take priority in his life ahead of football. To his dismay, his playboy lifestyle would not only see him leave the club and wander from one team to the next for a decade but also lose all of his hard earned money. Today, Mohlala is aged 44 and according to rumours he is completely broke despite his big earnings in the past. In addition, he has squandered the potential to become a worldwide superstar. In a Facebook post in 2016 he wrote:
9 Thembinkosi Fanteni
Known as “Terror” for his early career heroics in front of goal. His senior career started at Mother City FC where he made 82 appearances and scored 75 goals. Fanteni had what it takes to move into the big leagues and become an international star. When he was young, Fanteni was scouted by many European clubs, but his love for alcohol and parties led him away from the pitch and into the abyss and great financial woes. Fanteni is currently 36 years old. To this day he is still playing football, but thanks to many scandals and a general lack of discipline, the striker went from a superstar to a mediocrity and never became the player he could have become. This undoubtedly reflects on his bank accounts, which cannot be too full considering he never left South Africa and continues to play for minor teams with limited salaries.
8 Junaid Hartley
Like many African players, Hartley had talents, but did not have the proper discipline to make it in football. During his career, he showed lack of discipline and patience on many occasions and is rumoured to have lost most of his money in a failed lawsuit against his former team Orlando Pirates.
After his career ended, Hartley apparently developed a substance abuse problem which led him to rehab and loss of any sort of income. Today 41 year old Hartley is trying to recover from all the loss he suffered, but his story is one that every African player should hear and take a lesson from. The reports say he is currently coaching under 11 team in at the Education Through Soccer Academy.
7 Jabu Mahlangu
Daveyton born Mahlangu who is also known as Pule, Shuffle and Trouble Child, Jabu Mahlangu is another case of a South African footballer letting alcohol and parties drag him away from his true calling as a football superstar. At the age of 19, the midfielder started playing for Kaizer Chiefs and scored 27 goals over his five years at the club.
Back in those days, Pule had a promising career ahead of him and was destined for great things. According to his own admissions, Pule had an alcohol problem at a very young age, coming from a background of alcohol abuse in his family. He also warned footballers not to invest their hard earned money on luxury cars. Unfortunately such a lifestyle led him to end his career without ever making it to top-level football or making the wealth he could have if he continued improving his skills and playing his game. The 39 year old is now a motivation speaker, TV analyst and ambassador of SuperSport United.
6 Mbulelo Mabizela
Often referred to as Oldjohn, which was his mother’s maiden name, Mbulelo Mabizela was an ambitious football star back in 2003 when he joined Tottenham Hotspur. He became the youngest player to head up the South African national team and had every chance to become a world-class footballer.
If he continued his career path, Mabizela could become a legendary African footballer, but problems with alcohol and substance abuse caught up with him. Mabizela first got into trouble for substance abuse while at Tottenham in 2004, followed by his stunt with the national team where he failed to appear for training and match. In 2006, Mabizela received a 6-month ban from football for using illegal substances. He returned to South Africa where he is still playing football. He is now 39 years old and most experts agree that he squandered his massive talent and skills in a big way.
5 Philemon Masinga
Born in 1969, the late Phil Masinga became the hero of South Africa when he scored the faithful goal against Congo that took his team to the 1998 World Cup in France. Philemon played for Bari and Leeds United in Europe as well as a number of other African football teams.
Over the course of his career, the striker amassed quite a fortune and was said to be a proficient businessman after he made a number of his investments work well for him. Once a multi-millionaire who owned petrol stations, boutiques and night clubs. However, it appears that his investments went sideways as he is rumoured to have lost all his money and his lavish mansion and move to his mother’s house in Soweto. He was declared penniless back in 2011. Phil Masinga passed away in 2019 at the age of 49.
4 Steve Lekoelea
Having spent most of his career at Orlando Pirates, Steve “Chippa” Lekoelea is yet another player who had the kind of talents that could see him play European football and battle it out with the great players of his time.
According to reports, it was the “good life” that got the best of Chippa, as alcohol, gambling and parties took this talented player off course and kept him at the same level for most of his career. Aged 41 today Chippa is rumoured to be broke and without much success in personal life and it is all thanks to never reaching his full potential. Reports do say that he has started his D-license coaching course and has his sights on coaching.
3 Ndumiso Vezi
Once one of the most promising midfielders in the PSL, Ndumiso Vezi has seen his footballing dream turn into a nightmare he just can’t seem to wake from.
According to Sowetan, the Ajax Cape Town midfielder, who used to race past defenders at lightning speed, now sits at home, in deep depression and relying on his father’s pension money for survival after a feud with his club turned ugly.
Ndumiso survived a hit and run in 2013, which left him fighting for his life, but just as he was recovering from that experience he was allegedly slapped with a medical bill the club demanded he pay back. This apparently led to an argument with the club.
According to the paper, after two days back at training he got into an argument with an assistant coach, and was told to leave the session. He was later served a letter asking him to vacate his lodging provided by the club.
He returned to his Folweni home in KZN but Ajaz refused to pay him or release him from his contract.
The situation has got so drastic that his family say they fear he may soon take his life out of sheer desperation. Vezi who is currently 28 years old has been without a team since 2014 when he parted ways with Ajax. The quick rise and fall of Vezi is one of saddest football stories in the PSL
2 Benedict Vilakazi
A player who had a world of expectation thrust upon his shoulders from the very beginning of his senior football career, fell by the wayside with his controversial lifestyle. His professional career was rocked by sex scandals with juveniles including being dragged to court, which in turn prohibited his move to Swedish side Djurgården. He then moved from club to club but disciplinary issues followed him everywhere and he ended up quitting the game at the age of 30. In 2019 the now 37 years old Vilakazi featured on television show “I blew it” where he revealed how he blew his money.
1 Teko Modise
The midfielder comes as a bit of a shock.
News broke earlier that retired footballer Teko Modise is about to be booted from his multimillion-rand Joburg home by SB Guarantee Company for allegedly dribbling it of its bond repayments.
Modise, whose credit profile was negatively affected when he lost his houses and cars due to non-payment about five years ago, entered into an agreement with the guarantor in March 2015 to secure a home loan for him.
Teko Modise is currently 37 years old and is a staff member at Cape Town City
That is the list. The stories of these players can be a great reminder for the younger generations that being a footballer means leading a true sporting life and keeping away from anything that could destroy your dream.