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How booze became the bitter downfall of SA’s footballers

Extra Time: The problem of drinking among South African footballers is well-documented and has long been their weakness, writes Michael Madyira.

Recently, allegations have emerged of two Mamelodi Sundowns players pitching up at the club’s Chloorkop training HQ while drunk.

The players share the same agent who admitted there were issues. Coach Rhulani Mokwena was non-committal about the issues but pledged to protect the two.

It threatened to destabilise the Sundowns dressing room and one of the identified players has since stopped training with the club.

A worrisome number of former and current footballers have gone on record, explaining how booze and dating multiple women robbed them of what they had worked so hard for.

Others talk about how their glittering careers ended prematurely because of drinking and all-night parties.

Before the start of the current season, former Kaizer Chiefs stars Daniel Cardoso and Leonardo Castro opened up on how some of their teammates would arrive at training in a drunken state.

It provides an insight into the problems at Naturena.

Even the club itself is on record detailing how they tried helping a player with rehab and counselling after he was “suspended a number of times, including twice in one season”.

Eleven years ago, I remember bumping into an ex-Chiefs player in a nightclub.

He was bragging to his friends how he is able to, after a night of partying, still wake up early after a few hours of sleep, nurse a hangover with a pint and be one of the first to arrive at training.

He went on to boast how he would be one of the top performers at training.

Essentially, he was trying to say that alcohol is some form of fuel for his body.

The player in question is still playing and scoring goals overseas.

This is not just a South African problem. On Monday reports from France suggested a Paris Saint-Germain player turned up at training while drunk.

But it’s a huge concern on our shores and it looks like there is no solution to this alcohol problem.

Of course, the responsibility starts with the player. But the question remains: how best can we come up with a support system to solve the problem before we lose more talent?

Pictured above: Drinking booze while watching the game

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