The South African Premier Soccer League is the highest paying league for football players on the African continent.
And while soccer can comparably be a short-lived career, it can boast of high earnings. According to Hinviral.com, the highest paid soccer player in the country currently is Itumeleng Khune, at a staggering R480,000 per month.
Yet, we often hear of soccer stars, who at the peak of their careers earned big bucks, but later fell on to financial hard times. For example, greats like Benedict Vilakazi, Philemon Masinga and Jethro 'Lovers' Mohlala.
Mohlala, who played for Bafana Bafana and Mamelodi Sundowns, has been vocal about his financial struggles. He posted on his Facebook page: "But when we got that first payment everything changed. When our parents told us to invest we did not listen. When they told us to stick to one woman and stop wasting money we said it is my money."
Head of Wealth Strategy at Old Mutual, Henry van Deventer, says when it comes to securing wealth, the principles are universal. He tells HuffPost SA: "When you consider their great success, it's hard to believe what happens to some athletes and their money." He adds: "However, there are no super financial solutions for superstars. The same principles still apply -- especially when earnings improve drastically."
Deventer's advice: "Make sure you lock enough of it [money] away to look after youself first." Otherwise, he cautions, it may be difficult to maintain a similar lifestyle upon retiring from the sport -- something he has observed stars try to do even though they are no longer earning the same income.
PSL Chairman, Irvin Khoza, has also occasionally warned soccer players against wasteful spending when they haven't properly saved or invested their monies. Speaking at the late John "Shoes" Moshoeu's funeral, he said: "Some players don't even have homes when they retire."
Something Mohlala also cautions against. "While u were playing. U did not even build a house for self or renovate yo parents house how u left is how u come back with nothing because u left with nothing... Plan yo future while u a still playing invest in proper business. It so ambbarasing when u had cars and now u have to take taxi," he wrote on the post.
Here are three financial tips from van Deventer, for athletes who come into plenty money:
- First see a financial planner. "Seeing a financial planner is the single most important thing. They can guide you, give you practical financial advice and help you set short and long-term financial goals," van Deventer says.
- Invest in your retirement. "If an athlete retires at age 35 after, say, 15 years of making money at their peak, they may have as many as 65 years of 'retirement' to fund from just 15 years' worth of income," points out van Deventer.
- Assess what you most value. Van Deventer contends that what makes people happy differs, and may not even be material, so soccer stars must also assess what it is that makes them happy and financially plan around this. "Research shows that it isn't stuff, but meaningful relationships and a sense of purpose that makes people happy," he says.
"The need for successful wealth and investment management, as well as sound, lifestyle, orientated financial planning. With this, individuals can ascertain if there isn't enough money at retirement to secure the lifestyle they have become accustomed to at the end of their career. Should there be a shortfall, it is better to know earlier so that corrective steps can be taken to close this gap, even if it means downscaling slightly," Van Deventer concludes.