The former SuperSport United star said he was frustrated when his dream failed to kickoff as fast as his peers who were promoted before him
Retired Bafana Bafana star Reneilwe ‘Yeye’ Letsholonyane has revealed why he was almost tired of trying hard in football before his career took a positive turnaround at Kaizer Chiefs.
Letsholonyane launched his career at 15 years of age while at Kagisano Masters in White City but when he joined Jomo Cosmos and there was not much progress as his peers got promoted, the South African legend admitted he was tired of trying.
“I watched as others were being promoted and nothing was happening. So, I decided to leave,” Letsholonyane told FARPost.
“I was going through emotions, not sure if I wanted to continue. I was tired of trying too hard, Porto was a new team, on the same street where I was schooling [Kelokitso High in Meadowlands], so they approached me. I thought ‘why not’ since most of their players came from my neighbourhood and I enjoyed playing football.”
Letsholonyane’s move to Premier Soccer League giants Kaizer Chiefs was facilitated by prominent radio DJ Glen Lewis, who saw an unfulfilled promise in the dreadlocked midfielder when he was in his 20s.
“When I met him he was at PJ Stars. It so happened that we got a deal at Cosmos. Like anyone else, he wanted to reach certain levels. What I knew in my heart was that he wanted to go to Chiefs. He never wanted to go to Orlando Pirates,” Lewis said.
“I used to call Bobby [Motaung], saying there’s this player Yeye, but because everyone knows me as a DJ, they all ignored me. So, fortunately, I got a call from Roger De Sa.”
The former Highlands Park star had agreed to join Bidvest Wits, but that could not materialise as a call from Kaizer Chiefs changed the plan.
“We arranged a meeting at Eastgate Shopping Centre. Wits made a good offer for him, but I didn’t want us to sign it immediately. I said I needed to speak to his parents,” Lewis added.
This is how Yeye remembers how it happened:
“On the day I was to sign the Wits contract, I remember getting a call from Motaung ‘Bobsteak’. I couldn’t believe it,” the midfielder admitted.
Explaining what attracted him to the Soweto club, the star revealed respect for the past generation of players at the club.
“They had so much swag,” he said.
“Their jersey was the most colourful and when they played it looked like they did it effortlessly. But they were working hard. I knew the previous generations [of Chiefs] were not called Glamour Boys for nothing. They did what the chairman lives for – making fans happy. We also did it while having fun.”
Letsholonyane’s childhood friend Kgori ‘Dinho’ Mokoro revealed the midfielder had no interest at all in joining either Orlando Pirates or Mamelodi Sundowns.
“He said ‘I’ve been waiting for these people’, referring to Chiefs. He didn’t want to go to Pirates or Sundowns. I think he looked at the position he played and loved the Chiefs identity. He felt he would enjoy his football at Chiefs,” Mokoro explained.
After making his name with Amakhosi, the South Africa star left in 2016 and was given a standing ovation during a game against Chippa United at FNB Stadium. He won two Premier Soccer League titles, two MTN trophies as well as the Telkom Knockout and Nedbank Cups. He was also part of the Bafana Bafana team that featured in the 2010 World Cup.