George Lebese wants to leave Mamelodi Sundowns almost a year after signing from Kaizer Chiefs, and there are some lessons to be learned from his fall from grace, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.
Lebese broke the silence on his conspicuous absence from Pitso Mosimane’s match-day squads.
Initially, what began as a slow transition period turned out to be a frustratingly long spell on the sidelines that brought little game time.
While most of the public are going with the ‘I told you so’ narrative, the 29-year-old has been going through a somewhat humbling experience. Geeza’s decision to move away from Chiefs after eight years was the most perplexing thing for me personally.
Without any intention of disrespect to the magnitude of both clubs involved, I was and still am perplexed by the move. At Chiefs, not only had Lebese cemented his spot at the club, he was adored by the Amakhosi faithful, having risen through the ranks at the club.
So, why exactly did Lebese leave Chiefs for Sundowns?
When his move was revealed in August last year, the tricky winger said that he had not yet fulfilled his potential at Chiefs, opting to pursue greener pastures at his boyhood club Sundowns.
‘I didn’t fulfill my potential at Chiefs,’ he told IOL.
‘I have been asked that question so many times that there was a point when it annoyed me. It still does.
‘It annoys me because I know it’s a fact that I didn’t fulfill my potential at Chiefs,’ he added.
Whether it was ambition or money that flared the sails of Lebese’s boat, the decision to join the star-studded Sundowns team has backfired, and backfired miserably.
— TFGSoccerClub (@TFGSoccerClub) November 22, 2018
Although this doesn’t represent the beginning of the end of the road for Lebese’s career, the curious case of Lebese’s fall from grace should serve as an example to footballers that Chloorkop isn’t a place for the faint-hearted.
Consider Fanyana Mokoena, Koketso Mmotong, Papi Zothwane, Clayton Daniels, Thamsanqa Sangweni, Ejike Uzoenyi, Luyolo Nomandela, Mame Niang, Fares Hachi and Kudakwashe Mahachi. (The list is endless)
These are just a few players that were snapped up by Sundowns in big-money moves after showing glimpses of promise in any particular season(s)/tournament.
The end result of these acquisitions, however, was not positive, with most being shipped off to other clubs soon after signing on the dotted line for Masandawana.
So why am I bringing this up?
The above-mentioned list of players might have performed well for smaller clubs than Sundowns within a given period of time, rather than failing to replicate their form for Patrice Motsepe’s mega-rich club, either due to lack of game time or failure to work hard enough.
Often talent isn’t enough when joining a club like Sundowns.
Being a stoic, having the determination and bidding one’s time for the right opportunity forms part of the package.
Take a guy like veteran defender Wayne Arendse. He made the move to Chloorkop on the back of six excellent years of service to Santos, where he cemented his spot in the starting XI.
In his first three seasons with the club, Arendse was reduced to a limited role at the club, making a combined total of 27 appearances in all competitions – mostly appearing as a substitute.
Instead of taking the modern-day footballer approach of airing his issues out in the media and dropping hints on social media, the tough-as-nails defender put his head down, bided his time and worked hard.
He was subsequently rewarded the next season when he made 43 appearances in all competitions, helping Sundowns clinch their maiden Car Champions League title.
For some, comparing Arendse to Lebese’s journey’s at Sundowns might be like comparing apples and oranges, but the point is that when moving to Chloorkop, be prepared for the worst and pray for the best while working your socks off.
The move to Sundowns might bring you a new level of notoriety, as well as bigger cheque – carefully weigh up that move.
Ask yourself, are you in it to further your footballing career or are you in it for the money?
In Lebese’s case, he had everything he needed at Chiefs. Was a move to Sundowns really a viable option for him to further his career in the way he wanted?
More than a year later after joining from Chiefs, with 16 appearances, one goal and one Absa Premiership medal around his neck, Lebese has requested to jump ship, which should tell you everything.
Sundowns is not for everybody. Choose wisely.