Joel Luphahla reveals how stealing a goat helped kick-start his career

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Former Warriors winger Joel Luphahla has revealed a hilarious incident, in which he stole a goat from his mother, helped him to kick start his football career in his rural area, Tsholotsho.

The former Zimbabwe Saints and Highlanders star, who started as a track athlete, was among the best of his generation in the country and represented the national team at their maiden Afcon tournament in 2004.

He also had stints with several clubs in South Africa and also spent four years playing in Cyprus.

But before that, it all began after Luphahla stole a goat from his mother, and sold it to raise the funds to go to South Africa.

“I had this mentality that after finishing my O Level, I will go to South Africa to start working there,” he told Alois Bunjira on Zim Soccernet‘s In Touch With A Legend show.

“Two of my friends were already there and had sent two bicycles each, so I felt like I should do something.

“After finishing my school (in Bulawayo), I went to Tsholotsho, and there was this guy who helped people to cross to South Africa without proper travelling documents.

“He would take any form of payment, and I remember stealing my mother’s biggest goat to pay him.”

After Luphahla arrived in South Africa, things took a nasty turn, and he was forced to live in the streets after his friends refused to give him accommodation.

The retired footballer was then detained for two weeks by the home affairs, waiting for his deportation.

Left with no option, he was forced to return home and take football serious to make up for the crime he committed before leaving for SA.

Luphahla added: “After I was deported, I had to track back to Tsholotsho, but there was still the issue of the goat.

“That’s when everything started because I had to make it work, I had no other way.

“There was a social football league in Tsholotsho, and I joined one of the teams. The coach didn’t believe what he saw in me, and he said that I was going to be a good footballer but would need to work hard.”

Despite being in a remote location, the young Luphahla was spotted by Madinda Ndlovu who had travelled to Tsholotsho on a business trip.

Ndlovu quickly informed the-then Bosso coach Rahman Gumbo and chairman Enerst Mapepa about the newfound gem, but they took longer to make the move.

Joel then joined a Division Two club based in Nyamandhlovu but would travel to Bulawayo for some league games.

This is when he met his breakthrough after Zim Saints spotted him and offered a contract with the help of Ronald ‘Gidiza’ Sibanda. This was not the first time he had been with the club following his short stint as an Under 14 player.

After starring for Chikwata until 1998, he went to Highlanders and then to Cyprus in 2000.

He returned from Europe and played for a couple of clubs in South Arica including Supersport United and Platinum Stars.

Luphahla returned to the domestic scene in 2010 and ended his playing career at his home town club, Tsholotsho in 2015.

The 44-year old is now in football management and has coached at former PSL club TelOne and, most recently, Golden Eagles in Division One.