Leboela: the man who had a magic touch

Leboela: the man who had a magic touch

LERIBE – LESOTHO is blessed with an abundance of football talent and although the country may not be up there with the rest of the world in terms of professionalism, there is no denying Lesotho has been gifted with a long line of gifted footballers.
Through the generations, the country has produced brilliant players that are still recognised for their excellence on the field.
One such player is Linare legend Thulo Leboela who was famously known as ‘Magic Touch’ in football circles and everywhere he goes.
Leboela’s nickname came from his silky touches on the ball and despite retiring from football in 1996, the moniker ‘Magic Touch’ has never left him and he is still referred by the name to this day.
It is something that flatters Leboela and this week thepost sat down with legendary former footballer at the Hlotse Pitso Ground, his former stomping ground for Leribe giants Linare.
Interestingly, even after all these years in retirement, Leboela has not lost touch with the game and, certainly, the name ‘Magic Touch’ does suit him. He remains the bubbly, cool and stylish character of his playing days.

The only difference is Leboela now plays for the Masters, a social team made up of retired football legends of yesteryear that plays matches occasionally.
“I got the name ‘Magic Touch’ from a friend of mine while we were still at school,” Leboela explained.
“He wasn’t even a football person, but he said I had good touches and he loved it. He said the way I controlled the ball was nice. That’s how the name came about.”
According to Leboela, nothing is more important for footballer than having a quality first touch and good ball control.
“Having a good first touch is very important, actually in football you have to know how to control the ball and pass, those are the basics. If you know how to do those two things you will go anywhere,” he said.
“Those two things are the main important attributes, everything else comes after. Lucky enough I had a good development when I was young. It is not everyone that can play one touch football, so sometimes when the ball arrives you have to trap it and then pass it.

“If you don’t know how to control the ball it will bounce back to where it is coming from, so your first touch has to be good. It is the same if the game is in the beginning stages and you are struggling with your first touch, your confidence will go (away).”
Nowadays, footballers get mocked for not having a good first touch because it is considered a basic requirement and the first thing one has to learn when starting to play football.
Unfortunately, there are no academies in the country where kids can be taught football basics at an early age and, as a result, a lot of footballers struggle when they get to the premier league or national team level.
Not having basic football techniques can also cost player a dream move to big clubs or big leagues abroad.

“It is difficult to be chasing your first touch if you are old because even your body will not allow you unlike when you are still young and flexible,” Leboela said.
“Trapping and passing are the most important things in football and they need to be practiced. You can’t say ‘I will see during the game’. No, you have to practice them,” he insisted.
Leboela, who is famous for his sterling performances for the national team, Likuena, during his playing days, said he is honoured people still remember and appreciate him.
Leboela said he has so many good moments to pick from but will never forget the day he got a call up to the national team while he was club-less and playing no competitive games.
He said it will forever be his favourite moment and one he will cherish for a long time.
“I had a lot of moments in the national team, there was a time when I had problems with Linare and I had no club but I was still called to the national team,” Leboela said.
“Other people were playing every week and I got selected with no team. I think that was big for me, I will never forget it. We were playing against Kenya and I played the first half of that game I remember,” he added.

Despite Lesotho not qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) that is currently going on in Egypt, Leboela said he has been impressed with the national team in recent years and he urged clubs to work harder to provide the national team with better players.
Leboela said the players should never feel comfortable as far as their positions in the national team go and they should always know they can be replaced.
As someone who is well respected in football, Leboela said he does have players that he enjoys watching today.
Foremost is Matlama star Phafa Tšosane.

While the ‘Tse Putsoa’ playmaker may have a different style of play to the former Linare star, Leboela hailed Tšosane as one of the most entertaining players to watch in the country.
“Phafa Tšosane I would say,” Leboela said when asked to name his favourite current player.
“I love watching him and how he plays football, it is wonderful. It’s not just his free-kicks and passing, but it is his overall game that I truly like,” he continued.
The 2019/20 Econet Premier League season is still several weeks from resumption but Leboela said he is already looking forward to the new campaign and cannot wait.
Leboela said he believes this should be a breakthrough season for Linare prospect Tsepa Mohlotsane.
Leboela said he expects Mohlotsane to play a big role for ‘Tse Tala’ next season and believes the youngster will cope with the rigours of the Econet Premier League because he is one of the hardest working players in the team.

Tlalane Phahla

 

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