EDWARD Manqele on Tuesday said Mamelodi Sundowns, his former employers who agreed to terminate his contract last week, grossly exaggerated his weight problems.
The striker has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Chippa United, but admits he still needs time to be match fit.
Manqele returned from a loan spell with Moroka Swallows last season but was chased from the Sundowns training ground in Chloorkop for apparently being overweight. Even though coach Pitso Mosimane had made it clear that the former Free State Stars top scorer was surplus to requirements, the Brazilians refused to cut ties and continued to pay him.
Downs changed their tune last week and handed the 27-year-old a clearance. He picked Chippa, who nearly signed him on loan on the transfer deadline day in August but failed because they had exceeded their loan quota.
Manqele criticised Sundowns on Tuesday. “No one cared about my career there,” said the forward, who was bracing himself for a legal battle with the defending Absa Premiership champions.
“I never spoke out about what was being said about my physical condition in public. I tried to stay in shape on my own by going to the gym. I felt like Sundowns wanted to destroy me, but I am happy to be moving on with the help of my wife, agent and new club.”
If Chippa had not harassed Sundowns for the player, then he would still be in limbo, Manqele said. He said his weight did not seem to bother the Port Elizabeth-based club owner, Siviwe “Chippa” Mpengesi, whom he met at a restaurant some weeks ago to discuss his future.
“The chairman of the club, in his own words, said he was shocked when I walked through the door when we met in Melrose. He told me that he expected someone as big as he is because of what he had heard and read. He expected a protruding belly. I guess after he saw me in person he was even more determined to get me to his club,” Manqele said. The player added that, at one point during the saga, he thought he might not play again. “It is when our dispute resolution chambers meeting on the 16th (of October) was moved to next month.
“I then sat down with my wife to look at our options because I thought it might be a while before I start playing again.”
He said he was hopeful of wearing his No 38 shirt at Chippa in the Premier League before the Christmas break.