Former Orlando Pirates captain says he needs a game to say goodbye to his fans

FORMER Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana captain Mbulelo “OJ” Mabizela is planning a testimonial match to bid farewell to his fans.

The 37-year-old says the match is the proper way to officially retire from football, having last played a competitive match over a year ago with National First Division side Royal Eagles.

Mabizela has yet to decide when he will stage the game.

Said the player: “This match is to give myself a proper send-off in the game. It’s been a long journey, with a lot of ups and downs. But I’m ready to officially hang up my boots.

“At the moment organisers and I are preparing for that big day.

“I can’t really say yet when that game will be played.”

Mabizela made his professional debut with Bucs in 2001 following a move from Maritzburg City, who were then playing in the National First Division. He went on to play for Mamelodi Sundowns, Platinum Stars, Bidvest Wits, Chippa United, Mpumalanga Black Aces, AmaZulu and Eagles in SA.

He also had a stint with Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League and Valerenga in Norway.

Mabizela made his Bafana debut in 2001 in a friendly against Egypt and in 2003 became the youngest captain ever for the national team at 22. He went on to play for Bafana 45 times, scoring twice.

Now, over 15 years later, Mabizela is ready to close that chapter and says he wants to do it in style.

“The plan is to invite players I played with during all those years. I’m talking about former and current players.”

The Pietermaritzburg-born Mabizela is one of the best defenders South Africa has ever produced but his behaviour and attitude robbed him of the chance to reach his true potential. He often made headlines for all the wrong reasons and many still see him as the country’s “bad boy of soccer”.

He was handed a six-month ban from football for drug offences at Sundowns in 2006.

Mabizela also indicated that he would publish a tell-all book, revealing everything about his life on and off the pitch, which will apparently later be made into a documentary film presented by former Pirates development player Ayanda Thapelo Tshabalala.

Tshabalala said the book and documentary would provide answers about what really happened to Mabizela.

“Many people want to know the truth behind his ups and downs. The book will have all the answers plus more. We have already received CVs of people who want to be involved with the book and documentary,” he said.

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