How Chiefs’ legends came to the aid of Simon ‘Bull’ Lehoko
His wheelchair was broken, so a bunch of former teammates got together and bought him a new one
When a group of 1970s Kaizer Chiefs legends and the club heard that a former teammate, central defensive stalwart Simon “Bull” Lehoko, was in need, they did not hesitate to come to his aid.
The 70-year-old Lehoko, who suffers from diabetes, had a leg amputated in 2016, apparently from complications after a brick fell on it. As Covid-19 ravaged SA economically, a group of former Chiefs stars heard Lehoko had hit hard times and that his wheelchair was broken.
Lehoko’s famous centre-back partner, Jacky Masike, 1970s goalkeeper Joseph “Banks” Setlhodi, midfielder Lucky Stylianou, attacking midfielder Johannes “Big Boy” Kholoane and Chiefs management contributed to a new wheelchair. With club representative Cecil Motaung, they travelled to Lehoko’s home in Sharpeville to surprise him.
Stylianou said the wheelchair and Chiefs merchandise delivered were a start and “the club and legends have assessed Bull’s position and a visit is planned in the near future, looking at renovations to make his house wheelchair-friendly”.
“After meeting Bull, ‘Bra Kai’ [Chiefs chairman Kaizer Motaung] met the legends in the boardroom and thanked them, and future meetings were planned about legends facing future issues. Cecil will chair the meetings, looking at ways to make the legends comfortable in times of any difficult situation.
“A lot of legends are struggling financially,” Stylianou said. "A lot of them, and I’m also talking about AmaZulu, Pubs, Orlando Pirates, Swallows. They never got themselves prepared for life postfootball.
“It was not their fault. No-one told them. You need someone to tell you when you’re young. You can’t just guess how this world functions. They also made nowhere near the same kind of money from the game. Even the financial advisers of 30, 40 years ago got it wrong saying, ‘Invest in a pension, and when you retire you’ll earn R2,000 a month’. In the 1970s you could buy a car for R700 and you thought ‘R2,000 a month, what a lot of money’.”
Stylianou said Kaizer Motaung is always available to help when he hears a club legend is in trouble, a real challenge as each decade the number of former players grows. “But he doesn’t blow his trumpet and say, ‘Look at what I’ve done’. He keeps quiet. He’s very secretive,” the retired businessman said.
“When a legend passes on, Chiefs basically cover all the costs of the funeral. Kaizer has never forgotten the legends who built the Chiefs brand. People forget Kaizer himself is a legend, and these are his former teammates, and he looks after them.”
Cecil Motaung, chairman Motaung’s brother and also Chiefs’ supporter relations manager, has been a bridge between the club and its legends. Stylianou said meetings are often held to find ways to help legendary former players in need.