South African football legend, Jomo Sono, has advised footballers to refrain from spending their hard-earned money on unproductive assets and lavish lifestyles, and to rather focus on investing their money in profitable possessions, such as property.
Touching on a range of issues during his appearance on the MTC Masters of Success show in the capital on Thursday evening, Sono said a comfortable life for any footballer after retirement is largely determined by the financial decisions they make while still active in the game.
Having left a lasting and formidable legacy in football, which saw him score more than 1 000 goals as a professional to become one of the only four players in the world to have achieved that, (including the Brazilian great, Pele), Sono has also over the years transferred his ‘’magic touch’’ to the business world.
Having spent most of his professional years in the lucrative American soccer premiership with New York Cosmos, Sono said he started saving money while he was still abroad in preparation for life after football. Immediately upon his retirement in 1982, he bought Dion Highlands for R250 000, which he later renamed to Jomo Cosmos. He is still the chairman, owner and coach of Cosmos. The club is currently valued at more than N$30 million.
Besides buying a football club, the man popularly known as the ‘Trouble Maker’ or the ‘Burning Spear’, in 1982 also opened up the first-ever KFC franchise in Soweto and later ended up owning six of them. KFCs were quickly followed by other lucrative business ventures in various areas.
“I have witnessed very sad situations where footballers, that were once the pride of their towns or countries, died as paupers, just because they failed to prepare for life after football and that’s really sad.
“Nowadays you find these young footballers with two or three top-of-the-range cars, but they don’t even own a house or just any simple property. It’s really a very dangerous lifestyle,” Sono said.
“What does it help buying three cars and you only get to drive them for two months, as the rest of the months you will be abroad playing? So, it’s only wise to buy one car that you or your wife can use and then rather invest the rest of your earnings in properties and other profitable business ventures that would sustain your family once you retire.”
Although – and strangely so – he has not been accorded the same status as other successful black businessmen in South Africa, such as Patrice Motsepe, Sono is living testimony that there is life after football. His business interests, which range from hotels to the petroleum and diamond sectors – to name just a few – have meant Sono continues to hog headlines nearly 34 years after hanging up his boots.