By Mikia Kalati
MASERU — Former Lesotho international and the country’s most celebrated footballer, Lehlohonolo Seema, has hung up his boots after struggling to recover from a niggling knee injury.
Announcing his retirement during a press briefing yesterday, the 32-year-old Mafeteng-born defender said he is proud of his achievements in a playing career that saw him captain South African giants, Orlando Pirates, and Bloemfontein Celtics.
“I still had hope of continuing with my career. I did everything I could to continue playing but the knee injury just could not heal,” Seema said.
Seema was still contracted to Orlando Pirates then, but was loaned to Mpumalanga Black Aces to get some game time.
His loan contract was terminated even before he kicked the ball in the colours of the Mpumalanga-based team as the knee injury continued to hamper his progress.
“I was out injured for three years. I worked with a specialist and was hoping to get back on the field, but when I thought I was ready to play the injury struck again,” he said.
“It was after this painful three years that I sat down with my family and agreed it was time to call it a day on my playing career.”
Seema said every time he tried running or making any movements he could feel the pain again.
“I was still contracted to Pirates and wanted to fight for my place in the team,” he said.
He said he has turned his attention to preparing for life after football.
“I want to be involved in grassroots football and use the expertise and experience I gained during my playing career as a coach,” Seema, who once captained Likuena, said.
“In football you never stop learning; hence my decision to give coaching a chance as I’m still a learner and I’m proud to have been involved in a few coaching courses.”
Seema, who also had spells with local clubs Matlama, Chelsea and Bantu, said he attended a CAF B coaching course held by the South African football association earlier this year.
The former Likuena skipper said he was among the 32 coaches who passed the CAF B licensing course.
Lesotho Football Association first vice-president, Tlholo Letete, paid tribute to Seema when he spoke at the same press conference.
“It was a great honour and privilege to have had such a talented player like Seema,” said Letete.
“It was even special because I saw his development from the early stages.”
Letete said it was during the time when Seema was playing for Bantu that he caught the eyes of Bloemfontein Celtics scouts.
“He is one of the most celebrated players in our country and along with the likes of Thabane Sutu, Ronnie Malefetse and others made this country proud in foreign countries,” said Letete.
He said a lot of players can learn from the leadership qualities of Seema, both on and off the field.
“He was one of the most disciplined players to come from our shores. No wonder he went to captain one of Africa’s strongest teams — Orlando Pirates and another South African side Bloemfontein Celtic.”
Letete wished the retired defender well in his future endeavours adding the country should utilise his expertise.