'Discipline off the field killed George Lebese at Chiefs‚' says Jabu Mahlangu
Discipline issues off the field impaired George Lebese fulfilling his potential at Kaizer Chiefs‚ Amakhosi legend Jabu Mahlangu has said.
Mahlangu also suggested another former Chiefs player‚ midfielder Pule Ekstein‚ struggled from similar issues.
Lebese – a bright attacking talent when he won league and cup doubles at Amakhosi in 2012-13 and 2014-15 under Stuart Baxter – finds his career in limbo as he seeks a club at age 30 having been released from his contract by Mamelodi Sundowns.
The skillful winger’s career has deteriorated since his move to Sundowns in August 2017.
He played just nine times domestically for the Brazilians‚ and also managed just seven league appearances for SuperSport United, where he spent the last six months of last season in a loan arrangement.
Even before leaving Chiefs‚ though‚ Lebese had gone from 20 league appearances in 2015-16 to 14 in 2016-17‚ raising questions over his work rate.
Sundowns released Lebese on the August 31 transfer deadline day‚ and he is still searching for a club.
“I always speak about things that people don’t want to speak about. Especially when I can relate – because I’ve played‚” Mahlangu said this week‚ when asked about Lebese’s current situation.
“Discipline off the field killed George at Chiefs. That’s a fact.
“I won’t say what he was doing. When I say off the field – ill-discipline‚ sleeping early in the mornings.
“Not only him. But sometimes we can do that together‚ but I suffer and then you remain. It’s life.
“So‚ off the field discipline was a big problem.
“It’s like Ekstein. Ekstein is from where my mother comes from in Randfontein. His house is three away from mine.
“Simply – lifestyle. There was a time when Bobby [Motaung‚ Chiefs’ football manager] told him‚ ‘You are a good player‚ you can be something else in this club. But‚ your lifestyle’.
“He told him‚ ‘We had players like Jabu Mahlangu who you don’t get halfway to in terms of talent’. But because of his lifestyle…
“And it’s good. They must use me as an example. If they [players] want to call me‚ I will tell them‚ ‘If you live like this‚ you won’t go anywhere’.
“Because that’s the only way we will make football players [understand]. Because we are known for not thinking‚ just spending money. When is that thing going to end?
“Because at some point that curse must end. But when are we going to break it? But we break that curse by telling them the truth.”
Mahlangu speaks from the experience of having had a checkered career‚ failing to realise immense early potential shown at Chiefs as lifestyle and off-field issues crippled several comebacks at teams in Europe and SA.
Repeated attempts to reach Lebese and his agent Steve Kapeluschnik for a response were unsuccessful.
Ekstein’s agent‚ Palesa Mkhize‚ said to his knowledge‚ he was unaware of the player – now playing for Sabah FK in Azerbaijan – ever having had lifestyle issues at Chiefs.
“Hendrick’s never had a problem with such things. He’s a family man‚ he’s got a girlfriend who he’s always with‚ and loves his children‚” Mhize said.
“I’ve never had any times where people might say to me ‘He’s doing certain things you should speak to him about’.
“To my knowledge he never had anything like that at Chiefs.”
Ekstein signed for Sabah from Chiefs in June.