Kick Off

'I regret leaving Pirates'


When Augustine Mahlonoko burst on to the scene as the youngest player ever to don the famous black and white jersey in the PSL era five years ago, much was expected from the Orlando Pirates teenage prodigy. At 16 years and 352 days, Mahlonoko made his debut for Pirates against Highlands Park in August 2018 and was touted as the next big thing with many predicting a bright future for the youngster. But what was supposed to be an upward trajectory took an unexpected twist with the player’s career taking a nosedive. KICK OFF’s Hosea Ramphekwa spoke to Mahlonoko about what went wrong.

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’


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