‘I blew my money on women and cars’ – Ex-Bafana star

Former Bafana star pleads for sec­ond chance

Sowetan - - Front Page - By Go­molemo Motshwane

He used to be a high-flyer on and off the field, but now Lerato Cha­bangu has hit hard times with no in­come, no home and no car.

Forced to move in with his grand­mother in Tem­bisa, the ex-Bafana Bafana star cut a des­o­late fig­ure as he pleaded with PSL clubs to give him an­other chance.

His once flour­ish­ing ca­reer has stalled since his last club, Chippa United, dumped him more than a year ago.

“I blew all my money on use­less things be­cause I was al­ways guar­an­teed a salary the fol­low­ing month,” Cha­bangu told Sowe­tan.

“We used to fin­ish train­ing by 11am and there­after you are free to do what­ever you want. We would go to Shisanyama af­ter train­ing and chill there over a few drinks and it just be­came a habit.”

Al­though he in­sists that he still has what it takes, the 32year-old now re­sem­bles a shadow of what was once a pro­lific tal­ent that blazed de­fend­ers with ease in the PSL.

The former Mamelodi Sun­downs and Moroka Swal­lows striker lost his house in Boks­burg and also had his car re­pos­sessed as he failed to keep up with re­pay­ments. He also used to rent a swanky apart­ment in Midrand.

“I sep­a­rated from my wife be­cause of fi­nan­cial is­sues and I do not see my (six-year-old) daugh­ter any­more be­cause she is with her mother.

“I have made many mis­takes in my life and I feel I have learned my lessons. Things are tough and I am not the kind of per­son who likes to beg.

“I have noth­ing left. Foot­ball is all I know and I hope there’s some­one out there who can give me an­other chance.”

The tat­toos on his arms are the only re­main­ing ev­i­dence of a high life once lived – of fast cars and beau­ti­ful women fight­ing for his at­ten­tion.

“I used to af­ford ex­pen­sive things. When the Golf V came out I bought it with­out think­ing twice. And as you know women will al­ways be there, but my main prob­lem was booze.”

As re­cently as three years ago Cha­bangu was in the Bafana mix dur­ing the ten­ure of Gor­don Ige­sund at the na­tional team. In 2014, fol­low­ing Bafana’s exit from the African Na­tions Cham­pi­onship, he re­sponded to Fik­ile Mbalula’s jibe of Bafana play­ers be­ing “bunch of losers” by say­ing the then sports

min­is­ter was also a “bunch of a loser”.

With friends hav­ing de­serted him, Cha­bangu spends his time with fam­ily in Tem­bisa and keeps fit by train­ing at a local ground.

“My ad­vice to foot­ballers is to save as much money as they can. I know how hard it is, but they must just think of the fu­ture.”

/ SHAUN ROY/GALLO IM­AGES

Cha­bangu once graced some of the big pitches with Mamelodi Sun­downs.

/ SANDILE NDLOVU

Lerato Cha­bangu with some of the awards he won dur­ing his glit­ter­ing foot­ball ca­reer.

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