Yeye reveals Tshabalala's secret to longevity

Reneilwe Letsholonyane, left, speaks about his best friend and former teammate at Kaizer Chiefs Siphiwe Tshabalala's lifestyle.
Reneilwe Letsholonyane, left, speaks about his best friend and former teammate at Kaizer Chiefs Siphiwe Tshabalala's lifestyle.

Reneilwe Letsholonyane has offered some insight into his best friend Siphiwe "Shabba" Tshabalala's lifestyle.

On the back of Shabba making a move from Kaizer Chiefs to Turkish Super Lig side BB Erzurumspor at the age of 33, the nation was shocked because usually, players at that age would be returning from Europe to wind down their careers on the domestic scene.

Letsholonyane, though, is Tshabalala's closest friend and says it does not surprise him that the latter secured a European move into his 30s.

Lauded for his clean lifestyle, Tshabalala secured a move from Naturena to Erzurumspor on a two-year deal with an option of renewing it further for a year.

"It's difficult to have staying power in this game, in a sense that there are a lot of things that happen in this world," said Yeye on Thursday, from his club SuperSport's training base in Sunninghill, a commercial and residential suburb north of Johannesburg.

"There's this pressure that comes with being a footballer in terms of a lifestyle. It's not peer pressure, because you are way past that stage.

"But, it's that pressure where, if you are not disciplined enough as an individual, you would end up falling into a trap ... and end up making wrong decisions, which would catch up with you in the long run because of a bad lifestyle," he said.

"Even if you are not a party person or don't drink [alcohol], you end up there because you want to fit in."

Letsholonyane, 35, further explained that, together with Tshabalala, they've been to the parties just to have some fun, but for them it's never became a habit, and that's how they've been able to prolong their careers.

"You are human ... we are human, and we need to have some fun every now and then, but I know for a fact that for us, with Shabba, it would be a party when, sometimes, we are out with teammates.

"It was not something that happened every weekend," insisted Yeye, who was teammates with Shabba at Chiefs from 2008 to 2016.

"I always say to the youngsters that in our field, football is entertainment for fans, but not entertainment like for musicians or artists. Those ones can stay up in a [night] club the whole night. It's their job to be in a party scene, but as a footballer you can't be an entertainer who is at training in the morning and when you are supposed to rest, you are going out at night. That needs discipline," he said.

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