“I am officially retiring from professional football… It has been unofficial but now I’m saying it official, and it kind of hits home because this is it. I am retiring from the game. It is not something I say and get to think about it but now I am thinking about it. It is emotional actually because I have met great people through football and I have travelled across the continent because it has been my life for 15 years of my life,” Thuso Phala said.
This is what the former Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United star said in an interview with sports-caster, Robert Marawa.
Thuso Phala has quietly been struggling with health problems and spent the festive season in and out of hospital, according to a deep throat.
This was verified by various sources close to the midfielder, that he had to retire late last year following advice from his medical team.
It is known that Soweto-born Phala,37, was taken to a Johannesburg hospital in November and again last month for treatment of unknown complications.
“When I spoke to him, he had just been discharged from hospital in December.
“He did not say what was wrong, but he had some health problems and was admitted, and got treatment for that,” a friend of the soccer star said.
The friend also said that Phala began having health issues in October, and after consultation with his medical team, he was told to retire from soccer because of his failing health.
“He was in and out of hospital and obviously doctors always worry about the worst. So, they told him to give up his first love, which is football, to save his life,” the friend said.
Another source said that friends were afraid that the footballer might face the same fate as other public figures who were previously diagnosed with serious conditions.
Phala could not be reached for comment and did not answer calls, and he did not reply to text messages sent to him.
It seems the footballer listened to his doctors. In a radio interview with Robert Marawa in November, he agreed he was hanging up his boots, following a call by his doctors to quit, adding he had already retired from football but had not done so officially.
The footballer has had a brilliant and yet troubled 17-year career at big teams including Kaizer Chiefs, Sundowns and SuperSport United.
He has also played for South Africa in international football.
Phala’s career was also marked by episodes of alleged bad behaviour. In 2019, SuperSport United let him go from the team after a series of off-field incidents.
Later that year, after joining Black Leopards, he said sorry to United for his troubles.
The next year Leopards fired him for “misconduct”.
Last year, Phala confessed to lying about his age earlier in his career for the sake of playing in youth football competitions.”