How scooping ice cream helped PSL veteran Michael Morton prepare for life after football

FILE - Michael Morton in action for Cape Town Spur during a DStv Premiership game against Golden Arrows. Photo: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

FILE - Michael Morton in action for Cape Town Spur during a DStv Premiership game against Golden Arrows. Photo: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 28, 2024


There have been some positive strides made in South African football when it comes to addressing retirement and ensuring that players can continue to have a steady income after they have hung up their boots.

This is the view of veteran Cape Town Spurs midfielder Michael Morton, who at 35, is approaching the end of a career that has spanned 15 years, the majority of which has been spent playing in the country’s top division.

In years gone by, we’ve all seen the heartbreaking stories of destitute former footballers struggling to make ends meat and falling on hard times after they’ve stopped playing.

Last month, the Premier Soccer League announced that a number of stars had completed the PSL Player Transition Programme to help them carve careers beyond their playing days. This was a step in the right direction, but it needs to be offered to more players, said Morton.

“I see over the last couple of years they’ve been pushing some players into a couple of courses, but it’s only to a handful of guys. Hopefully as it grows, participation from the players is more serious and they can get more guys into these programmes because I think it’s essential,” Morton told IOL Sport this week.

“But it does look like they are pushing the players in that direction and they are starting to realise the implications of a football career coming to an end.

“As much as everyone says the league should be doing more, the onus is on the players to do more to realise that we don’t earn enough money in South Africa to retire from being a professional footballer.”

Morton himself has a couple of ventures he is involved in the field as he approaches the end of his career. Just a few years ago, he was scooping ice cream while playing in Durban for AmaZulu. Retirement is something he’s thought about for the last seven years.

“It’s always been in the front of my mind, because you know when you reach 30, nobody wants to give you a two-year contract. You’re working on year-to-year contracts and you never really know where you’re going to be in six months, so it’s definitely something I consider all the time.

“I’ve had multiple streams of things going on. When I was in the NFD, I was even supplementing income by doing other work as well.

“I never wanted to be that 35-year-old guy who is starting to search for a job and you’ve got nothing on a CV. I’ve continuously built my CV over the last 15 years … in a constant pursuit to make sure I’m employable when I leave football.”

He’s done a lot of digital marketing work during his career after setting up an agency with a friend, and can be seen on social media sharing informational football videos.

“When I was at AmaZulu in Durban, we ran quite a successful ice cream business. I was training in the morning and scooping ice cream in the afternoon. Not a lot of people know that about me,” he said.

“I try to keep it separate from football. The natural tendency when you’re doing these things on the outside is that everyone thinks you’re distracted and you’re not committed to football.

“But in football, I’m 100% into football, and in other things I’m 100% there.”

Morton and Cape Town Spurs are currently involved in a relegation tussle, and as things currently stand, only a miracle will see the Urban Warriors retaining their top flight status into next season.

For this reason, Morton says he has no plans of hanging up his boots just yet.

“When I see the situation, I would normally say ‘ja look, I want to retire,’ but I don’t want to go out this way either. It doesn’t feel right in my mind to leave this way. I wouldn’t want to leave football with a sour taste in my mouth.

“So let’s see the way this season pans out. It’s definitely crossed my mind, but you never know. Things can change very quickly in football.”

IOL Sport