‘I didn’t expect it, but it happened. I have to accept it and move on,” said Joseph Molangoane after he was released by Kaizer Chiefs this week.
The 32-year-old utility player was let go by Amakhosi alongside George Maluleka and Kabelo Mahlasela following the expiry of their contracts on Tuesday.
“I have beautiful memories with Chiefs, but, at the end of the day, you have to understand that it’s a business. I took this on the chin as a man and accepted it. I am a soldier and I’ll bounce back,” Molangoane told City Press on Friday.
“And, let’s be realistic, my time at Chiefs would have ended at some point and it happened on Tuesday. I would have loved to be there for more years, but I respect their decision.”
He said he was grateful for the messages of support he has been receiving from supporters of all teams.
“I’ll like to thank them for their messages of support. That’s what pushes me ahead and keeps me strong.”
What’s next for a player known among his peers as Tight?
“I will keep training, be ready and wait for a call. But people must understand that I am 100% okay and healthy – and free of Covid-19! The lockdown has helped me a lot in terms of full rehabilitation. I am 100% now. I was doing everything with the team [in terms of virtual training since the Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown in March]. I am ready for a new chapter in my life,” he explained.
Molangoane last kicked a ball in an official match in April last year, when he came on as a late substitute against Golden Arrows in a league match. The game, at FNB Stadium, was his first appearance in two years as he had been recovering from a fractured leg sustained in the MTN8 quarterfinal clash against Free State Stars in August 2018.
In fact, the setback was the second time that Tight had suffered a horrific leg injury in the space of four years. He was also sidelined with a broken leg while at Chippa United in 2014.
A lot of sportspeople in his situation would have abandoned the treatment cycle, but Molangoane somehow defied the odds – including the thought that he could be forced into premature retirement.
His former coach at Chiefs, Steve Komphela, once aptly described the character of his charge in two lines: “The ‘boy’ has a big heart. As small as he is, he is one of the bravest players I have ever come across.”
Molangoane said: “I guess you get the full picture when the next person describes your personality and character. I appreciate what coach Steve said.
“Maybe I’m strong, but I just put in the hard work and follow the doctor’s orders. That’s all. Even now I am 100% fine ... it’s just a matter of getting a new job and doing what I like best, which is playing football,” he said with confidence during the telephonic interview this week.
Molangoane was spotted by Komphela at the popular Maimane Alfred Phiri Games in Alexandra township – the player’s home town – a decade ago.
As tiny as he is, Molangoane is a modern-day player whose versatility has benefited all the coaches he played under at Chiefs.
Key to his abilities is that he can play anywhere on the field – be it in defence, midfield or upfront.
Komphela benefited from this when Chiefs’s defence was ravaged by injuries. Molangoane had already established himself as the Amakhosi right-back when the setback struck two seasons ago.
“We come a long way with coach Steve. He gave me my first professional debut at [the now defunct] Platinum Stars [in 2009].”
Although he said he was not one to brag about his achievements, Molangoane holds the rare distinction of being one of a handful of local players to have played for the Soweto giants – Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
“Yes, I had the opportunity to play for Chiefs and Pirates. I am thankful I played many [Soweto] derbies. But I have also played for Platinum Stars and AmaZulu. At the end of the day, it’s my job to play football and give 100% whenever I play.”
At this stage, Molangoane is heading towards the latter part of his playing career, but he used the unrivalled career of Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs as a reference for longevity in the game.
“Age is just a number. Ryan Giggs played until he was 41. As long as you can push until a certain stage, it doesn’t matter whether you’re 40 or younger.
“I am still much quicker off the mark than some 18-year-olds,” chuckled Molangoane.
And, like Arnold Schwarzenegger once said in his movie Terminator, Tight vows: “I’ll be back. Stronger and fitter,” he added.