Absa Premiership

Innocent Maela: 'I considered quitting football'

Orlando Pirates player Innocent Maela celebrating after scoring during an Absa Premiership clash.
Orlando Pirates player Innocent Maela celebrating after scoring during an Absa Premiership clash.

Innocent Maela considered quitting football when he thought his dream of playing for Orlando Pirates would never come true.

The 27-year-old left-back spent almost five years away from Bucs on loan, with Witbank Spurs and Thanda Royal Zulu before finally earning a recall.

Maela captained Thanda to the 2016/17 National First Division title, scoring five goals and has continued his excellent form with Pirates in recent seasons.

Speaking to FARPost, he revealed: "I almost quit football when Thanda Royal Zulu survived relegation, I told my mom that I'd been out on loan for four years, going to five.

"I made it clear that if nothing happened, I'd quit football and go back to school because I'm still young. She said to me 'give it one more shot, son'."

Maela added: "We won the 2016/17 NFD and gained promotion to the PSL. Winning the League with Thanda was the silver lining in my career."

Thanda subsequently sold their PSL status to AmaZulu, leaving Maela again uncertain of his future.

"At that point, I thought maybe things were not meant to be. I was back to square one," he continued.

"Days later, the chairperson [Irvin Khoza] called to tell me they had been following my development and I was ready to come back to Pirates.

"It felt like God was making up for what seemed like delays in my career."

- TEAMtalk media

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