ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (July 31, 2019) — Lucky Mkosana is back in Tampa Bay but he’s a different, more professional version of himself as compared to his first stint with the Rowdies.
Mkosana, 31, was acquired by the Rowdies in a trade with Louisville City FC late in June, bringing to an end a nearly five-year sojourn away from Tampa Bay since he suited up for the Rowdies in 2013 and 2014. A total of 1,702 days passed between appearances for Mkosana.
In that time, he played for the New York Cosmos, IFK Mariehamn in Finland, the Cosmos again, Penn FC and Louisville. In all that time, Mkosana says the biggest change in him came in his maturity and professionalism.
“I feel like I do a lot more to take care of myself physically,” he said. “I do a lot before warmups to take care of myself with stretching, rest and drinking a lot of water. Things like that and how I eat have really changed a lot since I was here before. Everything is connected. The way you take care of your body and what you put into it makes all the difference. What you read, what you watch, what you do the night before a game, it all matters. I’m 31 now and I know what my body needs and how it will respond to different things.”
In his first tenure with the Rowdies, Mkosana was on the younger side of the roster. He arrived as a 26-year old on loan from the Harrisburg City Islanders in September of 2013. He re-signed for the following season, making a total of 35 appearances and scoring four goals.
Now, he’s the only outfield players older than 30 on the Rowdies roster. Naturally, with more maturity and experience, he should become a leader in the locker room and teach the youngsters the things about being a professional that he wished he knew at their age, right?
Not so much, as Mkosana heaped praise on the young players for being wise beyond their years.
“The young guys that are here now get it,” Mkosana said. “They take care of their bodies. When I was their age, I was not like them. Juan (Tejada), for example, I see the way he prepares for practice and games and it’s the way a professional should take care of themselves. I would like to mentor the younger players in the locker room, but they don’t even need it. We have a good set up here for the players.”
Though he has only been with the Rowdies for a month — he said it’s felt like much longer than that — Mkosana has settled well on and off the field. In 195 minutes since the trade, Mkosana has a goal and two assists. He could yet prove to be a shrewd acquisition by the Rowdies as the stretch run of the season heats up before the playoffs.
The Rowdies will be back in action in Charleston this weekend before returning home to host Memphis 901 FC on August 24.