BY HENRY MHARA
FORMER Warriors captain William Mugeyi has urged football players to invest wisely at the peak of their careers and learn from fallen stars who are struggling to make ends meet.
Mugeyi, the twin brother of Wilfred, had a glittering 13-year football career, where he played for Circle United and Black Aces locally, winning the league title with the latter in 1993.
After leading Aces to the championship, he was snapped up by Umtata Bush Bucks of South Africa the following season, where he went on to enjoy a remarkable career.
He retired from football in 2005.
Speaking to South African media yesterday, the former Warriors leftback said he made a fortune during his playing career and managed to invest it wisely.
Unlike some of his peers who earned decent monies during that time, but went on to squander it recklessly and are struggling financially at the moment, Mugeyi said his post-football career life was comfortable.
He wants current players to emulate him.
“To be honest, saving money was very easy. You know my lifestyle was very simple, I never drank, I never smoked, I never went out clubbing or enjoying outside life and all those kind of things, even though it (salary) was not big as what players are earning today.
“But you find today’s players can’t even buy a house. All they do is buy cars and fancy things and stuff like that. But when you look where he is, he is renting, but earning big salaries,” Mugeyi told football magazine KickOff.com.
“In 1993 when I joined the team, I was earning probably something like R5 000 to R6 000 a month, and that was a lot of money. Things were very cheap and life was easy. R200 could last you for the whole month. You could save and buy a car within three months,” Mugeyi reminisced.
He also said the money which he was earning at the local clubs he played for was very decent.
“Around that time, Zimbabwe was one of the beautiful countries in Africa. We had everything that you can ask for. Economically, it was booming. There was nothing to cry about, everything was just running smoothly. We could buy anything that we wanted,” he said.
“The club (Circle) was under a big, big company that produced cement, probably for the whole country. So as much as we were big players, we were getting big salaries.
“During that time, we were just young, 17-18, coming from school. You wouldn’t even dream of driving a car that time. Cars used to be driven by teachers you know, and doctors.”
Mugeyi spent 12 successful years at Bucks, turning down offers from some of the big teams in South Africa, including Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
“To be honest, why I turned down playing for big teams is I realised that most of these big teams during our time were not paying good money,” he said.
“I was happy with what I was earning at that time at my former team. So, you only find that most of the players are only playing for pride, because you are just playing for a big team. But financially, you find most players were struggling.”
Added Mugeyi: “I realised my team pays good, more than some of these so-called big teams, so this is what prompted me to stay with Bush Bucks because, financially I was quite happy.
“You’d find that some teams they would want you and give an offer, only to find that the offer is just peanuts. When you tell them you know this is what I’m earning, it was shocking to them to hear that my team, Bush Bucks, was paying huge salaries. So this is why I realised that it is just better for me to stay with Bush Bucks and make a name for myself.”
The former Warriors star, who made several appearances for the senior national team, including 12 Fifa World Cup qualifying matches and also helping the team win the 2000 Cosafa Cup, opened up on why he always wore a menacing face during matches.
“You hardly see defenders smiling, there’s no time for smiling. What is it that you are smiling about? You have to wear a baboon face for strikers to be scared of you,” he reckons.
The 51-year-old retired in 2004 at the age of 35 following advice he received from his bosses at Bush Bucks to go into coaching.
“I won the Coca-Cola Cup in 1993. In 1996, we won the Coca-Cola Cup again. In 2000, I won the Cosafa Cup as a captain [for the Warriors]. Then I retired in 2005. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, I don’t have any regrets. All I wanted was just to play football and enjoy myself, which I did,” Mugeyi said.
“I’m running a developmental side. I named it after my name Mugeyi, where I have youngsters from 13 years up to 20. That’s what keeps me busy.
“I charge a small fee for development and that’s where I earn my living. I’m self-employed. So at least I know it puts food on the table. As a man, you can’t just sit and fold your hands and wait for manna from heaven.”