I’m at peace with my­self, says Yeye

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

At 30, Reneilwe Let­sholonyane was ad­vised to re­tire from foot­ball be­cause he was deemed to be over the hill. But, four years later, “Yeye” is still go­ing strong and has no in­ten­tion of hang­ing up his boots.

Age aside, there is no stop­ping the Su­perS­port United mid­fielder, who has re­dis­cov­ered his deadly form.

For Yeye, foot­ball is his way of prais­ing God for the tal­ent He gave him.

“For starters, this is a God-given tal­ent and I didn’t work hard to get it. He gave it to me and it is my turn to thank him by do­ing my best with what he has given me,” he says.

Let­sholonyane oozes con­fi­dence af­ter his re­cent per­for­mances proved de­trac­tors wrong. His back-to-back man of the match awards against Or­lando Pi­rates and Mamelodi Sun­downs have re­minded de­trac­tors he is still the man.

At 34, Yeye is en­joy­ing his foot­ball again in the colours of United, which he joined at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son.

“I am in a good space. I am en­joy­ing ev­ery minute of it,” he says. “When you are in a happy space, that pos­i­tiv­ity rubs off on other in­di­vid­u­als, and they start do­ing pos­i­tive things as well.”

The for­mer Kaizer Chiefs mid­fielder says he is his own man and does not lis­ten to peo­ple’s opin­ions. How­ever, he re­fused to re­veal who it was who ad­vised him to re­tire.

“I was told to re­tire years back be­cause there is this per­cep­tion at home that when you reach 27 or so, you are no longer good enough and you need to give oth­ers a chance.

“I re­spect what oth­ers say, but it doesn’t bother me. Does the fact that I am 34 mean I can’t run? Or I can’t score goals? Or even keep the ball?” he asked.

He says he has no point to prove to any­one, let alone to his for­mer side Chiefs.

“I don’t have to prove any­thing to any­one. When I de­cided to leave my pre­vi­ous em­ployer, I wanted new chal­lenges in the few years left in me. I wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence new things and learn new things in a dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment. I wanted to get out of my com­fort zone. I mean, I was there for eight years.” He re­gards Amakhosi as a closed chap­ter in his life. “When I make a de­ci­sion, I make peace with it. I don’t bear grudges and I don’t have re­grets.”

He high­lights dis­ci­pline, fo­cus and “know­ing what you want in life” as the things that keep him go­ing.

“How you han­dle your­self on and off the field is key to suc­cess in life. You also have to sac­ri­fice cer­tain things but, most im­por­tantly, you have to re­spect the game.”

Let­sholonyane says he will re­main in­volved in foot­ball af­ter his play­ing days are over – it is im­por­tant to em­power your­self with fur­ther knowl­edge, as the game is con­stantly evolv­ing.

“To­day’s kids think dif­fer­ently to us, and we need to equip our­selves with the know-how of do­ing things ap­pro­pri­ately with them.”

Yeye re­veals he would have pur­sued his love of be­com­ing a char­tered ac­coun­tant if he had not been able to play soc­cer.

“When I fin­ished my ma­tric, I had a choice of ei­ther con­tin­u­ing my stud­ies or tak­ing my chance in foot­ball, and I made a con­scious de­ci­sion to give foot­ball a fair chance and see what hap­pened. I am happy I made the right choice.”

But he is quick to say that he is now study­ing busi­ness man­age­ment through Unisa.

“I have a cloth­ing busi­ness on the side and I need to have for­mal knowl­edge of how to run a busi­ness, hence I reg­is­tered for this course.”

Al­though the thought of re­tir­ing has not yet crossed his mind, he says he is al­ready pre­par­ing for life af­ter foot­ball.

“I know foot­ball is not some­thing I will do for­ever. I be­lieve a fu­ture is some­thing that you pre­pare for, as noth­ing is guar­an­teed in life. While I am still en­joy­ing my­self on the field, I must be re­al­is­tic and think about the fu­ture.”

He re­veals that plans are afoot to open a lounge in Dob­sonville and an­other cloth­ing store. He also runs the Yeye Let­sholonyane Foun­da­tion, which does char­ity work.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing last sea­son with­out any sil­ver­ware at Chiefs, Yeye says he is at United to win things. “We want to chal­lenge for ev­ery­thing.” He be­lieves he has not yet ful­filled his po­ten­tial as a foot­baller, and still has a lot to of­fer to the game.

Yeye says he will al­ways be avail­able for Bafana if the se­lec­tors feel they need him.

PHOTO: MUZI NTOMBELA / BACK­PAGEPIX

EV­ER­GREEN Reneilwe Let­sholonyane is still go­ing strong

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