Like the Phoenixby Levi Letsoko / 28.06.2012
With just over half a decade of a premium professional football career, Tsholofelo ‘Teko’ Modise has experienced a circular wave of success and failure. After signing to the Soweto giants, Orlando Pirates, back in 2007, the road to his childhood dream was getting clearer and clearer with every kick-off whistle.
The little known midfield maestro had caught the eye of many soccer analysts with his impressive accuracy in long range passing, quick runs and striking range.
Standing at a reasonable 1.6 meters, the not so big athlete, was becoming a huge problem for many defenders in the country due to his raw, street-wise and driven style of play – reminding many of – Benedict Vilakazi, Jabu Pule and Steve Lekoelea, in their prime.
“It has always been my dream to play for one of the big teams in the country and as a kid I used to fantasize and work towards playing for either Chiefs or Pirates. They were – and still are – the biggest teams in the country.” Says the Sundows captain. “I had some of my best seasons with Pirates.” He says. “I made most of my dreams a reality while I was there.”
Managing to net 36 goals in 79 appearances for the Sea Robbers, Modise quickly became synonymous with local football as his face was all over the newspapers, billboards and television adverts.
At the peak of his career, Teko was second to none! Even though his performances for Bafana have always been a bit sub-par and he failed to help his team to win the much needed accolades, his personal success was major – making him as the highest earning player in SA prior to the 2010 World Cup.
“Teko has always handled himself as a business. And that has worked well for him in the past when he had to engage with corporates for endorsements,” Says Jazzman Makgahlane, Teko’s Business Manager.
With big success, came parallel obstacles. Teko’s inability to express his talent and PSL form on the international stage planted a deep-rooted sense of depression in him.
After being crowned the PSL Footballer of the year for two consecutive years, 2008 – 2009, by the time the country hosted the World Cup – his performance had declined immensely. His inclusion in the national team spurred a heated debate for a significant period. His spark was obviously gone. He became prey for vultures. His personal life and marital issues filled the Sunday tabloids.
“It was a learning phase for me. I learnt a lot!” He admits. “I lost a lot of friends. I got a chance to see who was loyal to me and who was not.”
Teko pauses, then continues. “I was written off by many people, constantly being reminded of my sparkling former self. It affected my spirit.”
These days, Modise is signed to the Tshwane side, Mamelodi Sundowns, and he is very excited about his new home. “After everything that I have been through, Sundowns gave me an opportunity to rebuild my career and start afresh. And that’s exactly what I am doing!”
“He is undoubtedly one of the toughest players I have worked with.” Says Jazzman. “For him to be able to bounce back from the experience that he went through just means that he is a fighter. Not many players can overcome that!”
But controversy seems to stalk Teko at every turn. Recently the rumour mill went into overdrive with headlines stating that the Sundowns captain was facing a possible jail time because of his failure to honour his divorce and child maintenance commitments. A court order was issued in February this year after Teko was said to be in arrears for an amount totaling R52 000, which he had to pay to his ex-wife, Felicia Modise, as part of the divorce agreement.
Teko opted for an out of court settlement. As part of the agreement, The Mamelodi Sundowns star was ordered to give his ex-wife one of his 3 German engineered sports cars. With the PSL season looking to kick-off in a few weeks time, Modise has confirmed that he has extended his contract with Sundowns for another year. Having been through the wash a few times, Teko is relishing the opportunity to rebuild his career and his leadership role at the club. “Right now our focus is to build on the foundation that we have built over the past season and welcome the new players ensuring that they fit right into that foundation.”
You can be sure that, one way or the other, we’ll be hearing the name Teko Modise for some time to come.