Kick Off

The world was moving at lightning pace for Mahlonoko, and he found it hard to keep up with the fame and pitfalls that came with playing for a big team. When he got promoted to the first team at Pirates, the graduate of the Augusto Palacios Academy was sti

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Augustine Mahlonoko hails from Sebokeng in the Vaal, a known football talent hub, but has flattered to deceive as he has yet to reach the heights befitting his potential. And when things didn’t go according to script, there arose questions aplenty. Was he a one-hit wonder? Many wondered what went wrong for wonderkid, who in 2018 was named in The Guardian’s Next Generation 2018 as being among the 60 best young talents in world football.

“I got to a stage where I felt like I was on top of the world and my ego . . . I got bigheaded,” admits Mahlonoko, taking stock of his time at Pirates.

The attacking midfielder was yet to set the scene alight with his skills when Pirates demoted him from the first team. Mahlonoko, who made four appearance­s for Pirates, says he slipped into the comfort zone, where there was no urgency to grow and develop.

“There was a time where I thought that they promoted a good player but at the wrong time. I had so many thoughts in my mind. Everything was OK in the beginning. What’s going on now? What went wrong? I started asking myself those questions. What happened? I am no longer hungry.

“I relaxed too much. I thought I am from developmen­t so even if something happens, I’m not going nowhere but the reality is that today you are here and tomorrow you’re gone,” says the 20-year-old.

‘Fame played a role in me not playing’

“YOU GET TOO MUCH ADVICE, AND THEY END UP CONFUSING YOU.”

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