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Teko Modise – ‘I was trying to block the pain’

Speaking to Brian Mathe during the second episode of the Nedbank Reality Football series, Modise explained how he was trusting his wife with his finances to ensure he doesn’t revert to his bad spending habits that plagued him in the past.

Nedbank Reality Football, a series of tell-all conversations delving into the lives, defining moments and even money choices of some of South Africa’s greatest ever footballers, saw the ex-Pirates, SuperSport United, Sundowns and Cape Town City star open up on his relationship with money.

‘As a bank that takes the financial well-being of our clients seriously, we urge the public to listen to the inspirational and life-changing stories of our ambassadors so that they can learn how to positively transform their money choices for long-term sustainable financial well-being,’ says Khensani Nobanda, Group Executive of Marketing and Corporate Affairs at Nedbank.

‘I would spend on anything that I liked,’ Modise  said. ‘Sometimes it would go out of hand so I would dig into my savings just to go and spend. It happened because I was trying to get something new to compensate for the pain I had. I would buy, buy, buy and only later realise that the pain wasn’t going away. I never thought of budgeting – it wasn’t part of my vocabulary,’ he said.

‘The most difficult thing about being a footballer in South Africa is we never had a reference point from another footballer to say heed this, or this is the way to follow in terms of how to save money. So, we’re learning as we go, and we learn there are many mistakes that we [make] and unfortunately most people can’t recover from that. We [him and his family] are very lucky because we were able to recover. It helped that I have a wife that studied money.’

Modise explained that his spending habits were a result of feeling overwhelmed by pressure throughout his career to conform to a certain standard. By sharing his story, he is hoping to help current and future footballers – and the public – make better money decisions. 

‘At the time, there were certain standards we needed to maintain. Being a person that is always on TV, they are expecting you to be this person; to act in this way, to drive this car, stay in this house. As a boy from Soweto, where I come from, and being an insecure person, I felt there was an expectation [from the public]. You’re happy when somebody sees the expectations that they have for you – that was the biggest problem that I had to deal with, and within that you’re spending so much money, and losing so much money trying to please everyone.

‘In South African football we have a culture, in that culture we have a problem with having conversations about money. Whenever you bring money conversations up people get uncomfortable. It’s such a problem to have a conversation about money and I don’t know why. If we can start having an open conversation about money, we will educate so many people,’ Modise explained.

On the question what he would say to the current generation of footballers, he said he would challenge them not to succumb to the same societal pressure as he did.

‘I see myself in a lot of them and it pains me when I see that, because I know where that road is leading to. So, I would say to them, don’t conform to the norm – you don’t have to drive a certain car or have a certain lifestyle and it is ok and acceptable to be different.’

Catch Teko Modise’s tell-all Nedbank Reality Football interviews at and don’t miss out on previous and upcoming episodes with the greatest of local footballers, including Doctor Khumalo, Siphiwe Tshabala, Yeye Letsholonyane, Mark Williams and Jerry Sikhosana. 

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