Former Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs defender Siboniso Gaxa caused a social media stampede on Thursday after scoring the biggest goal of his career.
The 34-year-old is already planning life after football and earned a Political Science and Social Studies degree from the Wits University on Thursday morning.
Gaxa‚ who was part of the Bafana squad that played in the 2010 World Cup at home‚ said he was pushed to read and study having seen most of his colleagues go broke and fall on hard times soon after hanging up their boots.
"It breaks my heart to see what’s going on in our football.
"I am seeing players that had millions of rands in their bank accounts‚ but now they have nothing. How did we get here?" Gaxa said.
Few players choose to study during their playing career‚ given the demands that both roles require.
"Players must read financial books‚ hire tutors because they get paid lots of money and they can afford that.
"When I was studying at Chiefs‚ others didn’t see the importance of what I was doing and I didn’t understand why‚" he said.
"Our structures don’t cater for education and that has to change.
"After retirement players go back to the same poverty where they come from and that really breaks my heart."
The KwaMashu born star joined Chiefs back in the 2011–12 season after signing a three-year contract with the club.
South African Football Association (Safa) president Dr Danny Jordaan congratulated the former Bafana star on his academic achievement.
Jordaan‚ a proponent of the philosophy of taking education as a priority and fall-back plan by football players‚ said Gaxa had set an example that should be emulated by others.
Homie of mine, Congratulations on your outstanding achievement! Looking back, it was all worth it. You’ve proved that life doesn’t have to end after football there’s so much more one can still achieve. I know how much this means to you. Super proud of u 🎓 🎊🎊🎉🎉 @ayolagaxa pic.twitter.com/i4jJmeDbfa
— TsepoMasilela (@TsepoMasilela) March 28, 2019
"In my recent interaction with ex-players and legends‚ I have always underscored the fact that education is the best fall-back plan at the end of one’s playing career‚" he said.
"I would like to see more and more players who follow in Gaxa’s footsteps."