Retired Mungomeni on why it was difficult to play at Mamelodi Sundowns

Former Mamelodi Sundowns defender Luvhengo Mungomeni says competing with the likes of Vuyo Mere, Siboniso Gaxa, and Michael Manzini made it difficult for him to settle down at Chloorkop.

The retired defender also credited current Golden Arrows coach and former Kaizer Chiefs mentor Steve Komphela, saying he played a massive role in developing his game at international level.

Now focusing in his business and based in Johannesburg, the lanky former centre-back stated that he also enjoyed his football under four-time Premier Soccer League (PSL) winner Gordon Igesund whilst saying he didn't want to go around attending trials.

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“I think at Sundowns, I was competing with the best players there. Let’s be honest, I mean I played with OJ [Mbulelo] Mabizela, Manzini, Pa [Siboniso] Gaxa and [Vuyo] Mere and I was young," Mungomeni told Goal.

“It was not easy to play and compete against those guys at the time. These were fully established players and I was coming from Black Leopards.

"I still had to settle down and cement my place. I scored goals for Sundowns and then I joined Swallows, that’s when I can say it was my best time in football.”

Speaking about coaches that made him shine at the top level, the former Mthatha Bush Bucks player mentioned Komphela as one of the best and explained why he would do anything for Igesund.

"The good coach has to be Komphela at international level, that coach groomed me. There was also coach Serame Letsoaka, the late Styles Phumo and those guys made me who I am,” Mungomeni added.

“I am not talking about the development level at home [Venda], but these are the coaches that brought out the best in me. I will always be grateful to them. At club level, when I played under coach Igesund. That was the best year of my football.

“He was awesome, I would die for him at Swallows because some of the times, I recall I would play, I would feel my body says no but I would push, just for him.

“I would tell myself, let me tear this ligament because it will get better. He is one of the coaches that believed in me. I recall when I received my first call-up to the national team, even if Pitso [Mosimane] called me up.

"However, I didn’t get a chance to play for Pitso - not even a single game.

“They also called me to the national team but Gordon is the man, he believed in me and it’s always nice when you get such a coach."

Khama Billiat of Mamelodi Sundowns and Luvhengo Mungomeni of Moroka Swallows, December 2013
Khama Billiat of Mamelodi Sundowns and Luvhengo Mungomeni of Moroka Swallows, December 2013

On failed moves to join the Lions of the North and Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM), Mungomeni revealed he had no regrets but explained why he decided to hang up his boots.

“To be honest, my contract with Swallows was ending in 2017 and the club got relegated to the ABC Motsepe [league], I still had a contract and things were not going well for the team,” added the Siloam-born legend.

“I just had to stop, I told myself that I will not become that player running around doing trials. What is it that I needed to prove because I took care of my body in terms of fitness? 

"I never got fat and why will I be running around like a headless chicken doing trials? I never received a letter to attend a disciplinary hearing in my entire career because I was disciplined.

“I remember I went to Highlands Park and they told me about the budgets, I went to train with TTM and they told me about their budget. I understood but I stopped there.

“I had plans with my life and I don’t have regrets when I look back. I enjoyed my football career. My leg got broken and I couldn’t break another leg at the age of 30 or over 30. It was not worth it anymore.

"Out of football, you can still make money and survive. If it doesn’t happen then it’s okay, who am I?”

Having featured in more than 150 games in the South African top-flight, the former Lidoda Duvha defender said he always dreamt of playing professional football.

“I retired from football for a long time, I last played football in 2015 and just after Swallows got relegated, I lost interest in football. I felt I needed to focus on other things, I’m still in Joburg full time but I do travel to Venda,” he continued.

“I stayed for a long time in Venda during the lockdown. It is an honour to have played for Sundowns. My dream was to play professional football especially for a boy coming from the rural areas, I had to hustle on trials and so on.

“I was born in a football family, I signed for [Mthatha] Bush Bucks at a very young age and I survived in East London. I went to Leopards then I also survived in Venda.

“I was also doing well for the U20s and it was nice to work under great coaches like Komphela. Coming from Venda and playing football until retirement was nice. I told myself I won’t retire when I’m very old.

“I’ve seen many things happening to football players that happen when they retire and I didn’t want to be like those players. For me, it was a dream to retire when I was still young.”

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