Lerato Chabangu - Fact File

Chabangu Proud After Reviving Career At Swallows

Lerato Chabangu has grabbed his second chance after Gordon Igesund threw him a lifeline during his time as Moroka Swallows coach. So far, Chabangu has flourished as a pivotal member of Zeca Marques' team. He has also received a number of Bafana Bafana call-ups. The 28 year-old midfielder had an interview with Sabie Chili about his new lease on life and his commitment to being a changed man.

Personal Information
Full Name:  Mpho Lerato Chabangu
Date Of Birth: 15 August 1985
Place of birth: Tembisa

Nickname: Ace
Position:  Midfielder
Current Club: Moroka Swallows

Previous Clubs: 
University of Pretoria
Mamelodi Sundowns
SuperSport United

2002/03 Player of the Season (with Pretoria University)
2003/04 Player of the Season (with Pretoria University)
2005/06 and 2006/07 PSL champion (Sundowns)
2005/06 and 2006/07 Charity Cup champion (Sundowns)
2007/08 SAA Champion (Sundowns)
2008/09 PSL Champion (SSU)
2012 MTN8 Champion (with Swallows)
9 U20 caps, 28 Bafana caps.

Your football revival has been quite amazing. You must feel as if you are dreaming.
I feel so proud that after disappointing so many people with my past behaviour, I managed to push myself to where I am now. I just have to keep on working hard and try to continue with my good form at club level. I feel like  I have been born again and I would like to apologise once more to those who I disappointed in the past. I won`t disappoint you ever again.

When Gordon gave you a new lifeline at Swallows, some football fans were sceptical and thought that you might go back to your old ways.
People have the right to their opinions, but there were a number of supporters who encouraged me. When I came to Swallows, I needed one more chance, and like I said, I am happy that I did not disappoint.

Despite people like Gordon, and other stakeholders at Swallows who advised and encouraged you regarding your career, what did you do personally to ensure that you turned things around?
I worked on my confidence and fitness level. I knew that once my fitness and confidence was at the right level, anything was possible. I started believing in myself and my ability and also realised that I have to respect my job and my employers because that is where my salary comes from. Another thing that I realised was that God gave me talent and that I could not afford to waste it anymore.

Your revival also resulted in you becoming a regular member of Gordon Igesund`s Bafana Bafana squad. Are you surprised at the immediate impact you made in the team?
Being called up for Bafana Bafana was also a motivation for me to work hard and take my game to the next level. Remember when Swallows signed me, I was already written off, but Gordon and the Swallows management had faith in me. So far I am happy with my performance, both at club and national level, but I know that there is room for improvement.

In the absence of Swallows skipper, Lefa Tsutsulupa, we saw Zeca Marques entrusting you with Swallows captain’s arm-band. 
It was an honour for me to be given the captain`s arm-band and lead the team, however, I believe we are all captains at Swallows and that is what coach Zeca is always preaching.
Looking back, do you have any regrets about how things worked out for you, considering how well you started your football career? I have no regrets at all. I treat what happened as a thing of the past. Why should I cry over spilt milk? There is a saying ... to go forward you have to look back, but I do it in a positive way. I hope to continue with the good attitude I have developed. I know my potential and that I deserve better as long as I focus and avoid certain off-field things.

A number of players who broke into the PSL after you have gone on to bigger things. Yet you are still trying to revive your career. That must be saddening?
I am happy for those who have gone on to bigger things, but to feel bad won`t help me. I can`t forget about all the bad publicity about me - I know that I am a good guy now.

Do you ever think you can permanently rid yourself of the bad-boy image attached to you?
As people often judge others based on their history... As I said earlier, people have their own opinions and I respect that. Those judging me based on my past do so at their own peril. We are now talking about the changed Lerato Chabangu. I made headlines for all the wrong reasons but it is the time to make headlines for all the right reasons. I have learned from my mistakes and I am focused now.

What do you think of Gordon`s future as a Bafana Bafana coach? 
In my opinion, I think Gordon has done a good job, despite the national team failing to qualify for the Brazil World Cup. As to whether he should still be Bafana coach or not, it is something that I cannot comment on.