ZAMBIA midfielder, Clifford Mulenga has confessed that too much praise and pride cost him an opportunity of becoming one of the biggest football stars of his generation.
Mulenga said it was saddening how despite being tipped to be one of the greatest players Zambia ever produced, he had failed to hit the mark.
“It’s so sad how most of us who were tipped to be football’s next biggest stars have failed to make it big. Too much praise and pride got the better of us,” Mulenga, who was crowned 2007 Africa’s Young Player-of the-Year, wrote on his social network, facebook wall.
The 26-year-old talented player said it was now his intention to help motivate young and upcoming football stars to know how to handle praise while remaining humble.
“My intention now is to help young and upcoming future stars to know how to handle praise and remain humble. You don’t lose anything by having respect for others and being humble,” the South Africa-based midfielder said.
Mulenga rose to stardom in 2007 when he starred for the Zambia Under-20 squad at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup finals in Canada.
His silky skills caught the eye of several European clubs, notably Spanish giants, Real Madrid and PSV Eindhoven of Holland.
He had earlier showcased his potential at the African Youth Championships in Congo Brazzaville where the Zambia Under-20 team qualified to the World Cup after losing in the semi-finals to Nigeria.
Mulenga had put up a man-of the-match performance only to be blighted by a red card following an altercation with an opponent.
However, Mulenga went on to be crowned the 2007 Glo-CAF Young Player-of the-Year after fending off stiff competition from Nigeria’s Oseni Gani and Franchel Ibara of Brazzaville.
The Mpumalanga Black Aces player, who also starred for Bloemfontein Celtic and Supersport United in South Africa, was included in the Zambia senior squad at the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) where the Chipolopolo failed to get past the group stage.
However, at the 2012 AFCON finals co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, Mulenga was banished from the squad, which eventually won the continental championship for breaking a team curfew set by then coach, Herve Renard.
Since then Mulenga has not featured for Zambia but he remains active at his club where he usually comes as a second half substitute.
SOURCE: Times of Zambia