JOHANNESBURG - Thanks to social media, we can hold off on filing a missing persons report for one George Lebese.
The Mamelodi Sundowns winger has not disappeared in the true sense of the word, but he has unfortunately discovered that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
Lebese wasted no time in joining the Brazilians from Kaizer Chiefs six months ago, making his boyhood dream of one day wearing the yellow jersey and training at Chloorkop - something he said was just wishful thinking when he was a young boy growing up in the streets of Mamelodi - come true.
Amakhosi fans were hurt, as you can imagine. Some wished Lebese well, arguing that he would thrive at a club synonymous with winning trophies nowadays.
And Lebese was used to that at Chiefs prior to the barren spell under current coach Steve Komphela.
So, when the player said he left his comfort zone at Naturena to win silverware and play on the continent with Sundowns it all made sense, as strange as it did sound considering Chiefs’ own history in as far as being serial winners of several titles in domestic football.
Those who felt Lebese was making a mistake reasoned that he would struggle at Sundowns because his work rate was questionable at times.
Maybe that had to with the fact that he had little to no competition at the club, perhaps fuelling his desire to leave.
Lebese has made just five starts in all competitions for Sundowns since arriving back in August and has already had two moments he will want to forget in a hurry.
It was on the Sunday afternoon of October 29 in East London when the winger came off the bench to replace the injured Thokozani Sekotlong after just 22 minutes.
But, rather embarrassingly and forcing coach Pitso Mosimane to publicly apologise, Lebese was yanked off in the 73rd minute to make way for striker Leonardo Castro as Sundowns chased the game to try find an equaliser that never came.
It was three matches before he would make another cameo for the Brazilians and a total nine matches before he could make the starting line-up away to Polokwane City in Sundowns’ first game of 2018.
Lebese apparently asked to be substituted at halftime and hasn’t played a match since. If that isn’t the story of a man low on confidence then I don’t know what is.
Sure, it’s easy to reflect back on hindsight to ask the player where he was going when he hurriedly left Naturena for Chloorkop, where the coach is spoilt for choice in nearly every department on the pitch.
But Lebese must have known at the back of his mind that Sundowns were settling for him as a left-footed wide midfielder to replace Keagan Dolly.
The real target had always been Aubrey Ngoma, who was still a Cape Town City player at the time Lebese joined the Brazilians.
He should have known that there would be no stopping Mosimane from getting a long-time target. Credit to him for trying to challenge himself by going to a side with such an embarrassment of riches on the bench and even on the stands.
He had the chance, however, to convince Mosimane that it wasn’t necessary to try and recruit Ngoma from City last month, after all he’d been there for half the season before the coach launched another bid to get his man, a sign that he’d been unsuccessful in proving himself the go-to man on the left flank.
What a waste.