JANE Tšotleho fell in love with football at the tender age of four, playing alongside his older brother in the dusty streets of Semphethenyana on the outskirts of Maseru. But little did he know that his football journey would take him to far away countries such as the United States of America and Cambodia in Asia.
March 26, 2022
4 min read
Tšotleho reminisces on his football career
Likuena attacking midfielder, Jane Tšotleho in action against Kenya
- The attacking midfielder has won 11 caps with Likuena
- He has played his football in four continents
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The 30-year-old attacking midfielder, who is currently playing for the defending league champions, Bantu, has also won 11 caps for the national squad, Likuena, having made his debut against Liberia in 2014.
“I love my football journey. Football was always my first love and will always be. I had the chance to play in four different continents and it’s a blessing, but I’m not done yet,” says Tšotleho.
“It all started at home, where I used to play in the dusty districts of Semphethenyana with my brother and his friends. I’m proud to say, I’m not a product of any team or anyone, but a product of my own blood and family. My brother is the one who taught me everything and helped me be the player that I am today.”
From being developed and nurtured by his brother, Tšotleho went to join Rangers FC in his neighbourhood before joining Qoaling Emmanuel and ultimately, Hunters FC, who in those days served as the development team for Premier league giants, Lioli.
“I played for Rangers FC, who are right next door to my house, but I later moved to Emmanuel in Qoaling and from there I got a chance to play for Lioli development team called Hunters,” the attacking midfielder recalls.
“I give Hunters all the credit for the opportunity that I got and the exposure because if it were not for them, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to the USA, to showcase my skills across the world.
“I will always be thankful to them for that and everyone that was involved in my move to the USA at the age of 13-years old.
“Sunny”, as the left footed midfielder is affectionately known in the football circles, states that former Likuena goalkeeper and captain, Thabane Sutu, who is still in the US, played a major part in him moving to America as a teenager,” he said.
“Rapelenag ‘Shane’ Van Tonder was the coach when I was at Hunters and the move to the USA occurred through Ntate Thabane Sutu and Ntate Khethang Khohlooa’s connections,” Tšotleho explains.
“Playing in the USA was quite an experience. The move helped me a lot mentally and physically as a player. I learnt that football is played with the mind and the feet are just the tools to help you do what you are thinking.”
Tšotleho also feels that playing in the US equipped him with tools that will come in handy when he finally retires from the game as he also studied there, although he is yet to complete his studies.
“It is important to have something to fall back on when our playing days are over. I mean, a lot of players leave college early to go professional, but they do online courses on the side-lines. I left college early to go professional and did some courses online and right now, I have about five classes to finish. I have to be there physically for that course as it can’t be done online,” he says.
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“The best part of my scholarship is that it’s for a lifetime and I once I decide to hang my boots, I can go back to finish any time I want.”
Tšotleho, who was in the Likuena provisional squad for the two games against Seychelles, states that he is still hopeful of adding to his 11 caps and one goal for the national team.
“Representing one’s country is always an honour and a big achievement any player wants to have in their resume. It has been an amazing experience. I haven’t achieved everything I wanted with the national team and hopeful will still get more chances to do that,” Tšotleho says.
Coincidentally, the midfielder’s first and only goal for the national team came against the same opponents that Likuena will be playing in 2023 Africa Cup of Nations preliminary round qualifiers.
He was among Moses Maliehe’s charges who clinched a 2-1 victory over Seychelles at Setsoto Stadium on March 29, 2016.
The match was part of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
He states that former Nigerian Captain, Jay-Jay Okocha was his big inspiration as he grew up.
“When Okocha retired, I fell in love with Argentinean superstar, Lionel Messi.
“I would say those are the players that I looked up to and loved watching,” he concludes.