Lekoelea aims high

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

The road back to football prominence is long and arduous, but it is one that Platinum Stars midfielder Steve Lekoelea is determined to conquer.

Lekoelea's route looked pretty bleak not too long ago before the Tycoons threw him a lifeline.

He joined Stars a year ago from a union with Maritzburg United that ended acrimoniously.

At Stars, Lekoelea did not have it all his own way - a lengthy rehabilitation from an old injury, made playing opportunities difficult to come by.

As a result, the first match Chippa featured in was as a substitute against Santos at Mafikeng Stadium.

Lekoelea came on for Michael Khaile in the 20th minute with Stars down 0-1.

By the 90th minute, Miguel Gamondi's team was 4-1 up.

Stars captain Stanley Kgatla credits the free kick specialist with that day's demolition.

"Steve is blessed with a vision, and is an effective impact player. He created all our goals against Santos that day, and for me, as captain, having him around helps," Kgatla said, adding that Lekoelea was part of Gamondi's future plans.

Lekoelea also got a run in two subsequent matches - Stars' 1-0 loss to Orlando Pirates and their 0-0 draw with Moroka Swallows two Sundays ago.

Chippa says all he wants is to do his talking on the field.

He has not given up hope of resurrecting his international career, which was surely at its sparkling best in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where his free kick against powerhouse Brazil endeared him to many when our under 23s won that memorable game.

"I just want to play regularly, and am working hard to get a place in the starting line-up," Lekoelea said.

Lekoelea does not take kindly to being reminded of those sunny days, especially the whole PSV Eindhoven story when he returned home because of homesickness.

"That happened a long time ago," he said. "I don't think of all that now. What is left is for me to just play."

Stars assistant coach Cavin Johnson is satisfied with Lekoelea's progress.

"A player like him is an asset to any team," Johnson said.