FAMILY comes first as football doesn’t last forever.

These are the words of well-travelled winger Thuso Phala.

The 34-year-old Soweto-born footballer has seen it all in a career that spans 15 years.

Black Leopards terminated his contract last month.

But despite wearing the colours of Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United in a trophy-laden career, the father of three, says retirement is the last thing on his mind. Phala said he earned a third of his salary at the Venda based outfit and that he expects more pay cuts at the club that is likely to employ him next.

“I’m 34 and not getting any younger and I am open to the idea of getting a smaller package. The older you get, the smaller the package you get,” explained Phala.

With his career nearing the end, he can play for two or three more years before he hangs up his boots. Phala says he has invested in property to safeguard his life after football. He only has a matric certificate to show for in the classroom and is counting on his investments to take care of his future beyond football.

Phala has about 10 houses that he rents out in Soweto and other business ventures that he does on the side.

“I’ve not retired from football, I can still play for a couple of years.”

Phala added that when money is still rolling in, players often spend it without thinking of the future.

“It’s the tendency of soccer players to spend and spend and not save. It’s a different story when the money stops rolling in,” he warned.

“TS Galaxy chairman Tim Sukazi advised me to get into the property business when he was still a player’s agent a couple of years ago.”

Phala’s business ventures will be shown on Off-Pitch-Goal, a TV show that focuses on players and their off-the-field businesses.

“The show has taught me a lot about the value of property. I’m not paying off the bond at those houses by myself, the tenants are paying off the bond for me by paying monthly rent.

“Taking a salary cut has taught me about the importance of lowering my lifestyle. Because of the business ideas, it’ll be easy to adjust to life after football,” he said.

Phala spends time with his two-year-old son Tshepo and his wife during lockdown as his search for a new club continues.

“I also have two kids that I support from a previous relationship,” he said