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As the money flowed, Mtawarira used to pinch himself

He arrived in South Africa with just R2000 in his pocket but, now, after a rugby career which peaked with a World Cup triumph, Tendai ‘’Beast’’ Mtawarira is set for life.

Throwback: Tendai BEAST Mtawarira’s legendary moments in a Sharks shirt
Throwback: Tendai BEAST Mtawarira’s legendary moments in a Sharks shirt

The changes were so dramatic he reveals he used to pinch himself if all the money was his.

While many tend to shy away from talking about money, largely for fear of being judged, that they would be seen as bragging, or get taken advantage of, this is the opposite for Mtawarira.

The Springbok rugby legend recently opened up about his finances and how he made “so much money” during his first year of professional rugby.

Speaking on 702, the Zimbabwean-born star said he came to SA with R2,000 to his name and got into rugby to change his life and provide for his family.

“In Zimbabwe…we didn’t have much and my parents tried giving me the best start in life,” he said.

Mtawarira said the turning point in his career was in 2007 when he played for the Sharks based in Durban.

“That’s when there was a significant bump in my earnings. I had to pinch myself because I had so much money.

‘’It was ridiculous! I could afford to buy a car, house, and many Nando’s chickens in a week,” said Mtawarira.

Mtawarira threw in the towel as a rugby player in 2019 after a monumental performance in his final match in the World Cup final in Yokohama.

It was his third appearance at the World Cup, after the 2011 quarter-final and 2015 semi-final losses.

Last week, he was announced as the latest South African sportsman to join Jay-Z’s marketing stable, Roc Nation.

Mtawarira joined Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and his former Bok teammate Cheslin Kolbe as well as Proteas fast bowler Lungi Ngidi‚ who joined in November last year.

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“I am thrilled and truly honoured to be involved with Roc Nation Sports. The brand is dynamic and forward-thinking and that’s exactly what I need in this next chapter of my life‚” Mtawarira said.

Adjusting to life post-retirement, Mtawarira has completed his postgraduate diploma in management and is set to start his MBA in June.

“The biggest thing for me was to depart on my own terms, to go out on the highest of highs. I left with a big smile on my face,” he told TimesLIVE.

His tough upbringing has taught the former loosehead prop not to be complacent and he is all too aware that things can be taken away from you in a blink.

“I’ve coped well,” he said about adjusting to life post retirement. “I always prepared myself for the next chapter after rugby. The biggest thing for me was to depart on my own terms, to go out on the highest of highs. I left with a big smile on my face.

“Now, I’m enjoying everything that I’m doing.

‘’Civilian life has been quite good to me because I get to spend time with my family. I get to see another side of my kids I never knew before. I try to pick them up from school every second day. I’m enjoying it.”

The 35-year-old says he has no regrets from a playing career that saw him run out in 117 Tests.

He doesn’t miss the training or rough and tumble of the sport, but its people.

“The biggest thing is the camaraderie and the friendships that you create on the field. That is the special part of rugby. If I get onto the field now it will hit me. I was blessed with a long career. I got to achieve everything I wanted to. I have no regrets.”

He admits there is still pressure, though what he is faced with now is vastly different from what he experienced on the field. It is especially so for black players who wear the Bok jersey.

“Pressure is one of those things that is always there in everything you do. Yes there was probably more pressure when I was on the field.

‘’You are in the public eye. The spotlight is on you and you don’t want to let down your fans or the country. So the pressure is much more.

“I have a similar background to almost all the black players. You come from a tough background. You want to go out there and work hard and make sure you provide for your family.

‘’Every Saturday you have to produce the goods.

“For me now it is all about chasing greatness in the business and corporate world. People don’t just open doors for you because of your name. They want to know ‘what do you carry that is valuable?’

“Now you have to put on your thinking cap and maybe go back to school and get a qualification. That will at least give you a foundation.” – TimesLive