Goal Diggerby Andy Davis / 29.10.2009
Siphiwe Tshabalala is someone to watch out for at next year’s soccer showcase. If Bafana is going to shock the nation and actually play good football at next year’s World Cup showcase, the team needs to be built around players like Benni McCarthey, Steven Pienaar and Matthew Booth. That’ll give us a backbone of experienced quality international players in each quadrant of the field. That’ll give equally talented but more inexperienced players like Siphiwe Tshabalala the chance to shine.
Siphiwe Tshabalala possesses something that Bafana players of late have tended to lack. Vision. He makes things happen on the field. He’s a player with good close control and an eye for defense splitting passes and a knack for timing his run down the left wing. He also has a punishing left foot. Born in Phiri, Soweto back in ‘ 84, Lawrence Siphiwe Tshabalala showed his talent for the beautiful game from an early age. He made the grade and played for the local Phiri Movers before he was inducted into the Kaizer Chiefs youth development system. He came through their ranks before being farmed out to Alex United in the 03/04 season and then played for Free State Stars from 04 to 07, after which he made a triumphant return to Kaizer Chiefs where he is the lynchpin of their midfield. Former Bafana coach Ted Dumitru saw Tshabalala’s potential and picked him for the national side at the tender of age of 20. And he hasn’t looked back since, scoring goals in the 3-0 win over Paraguay, the 1-0 win over Guinea and the 2-1 drubbing of Norway in Rustenberg earlier this year. Many believe that former Bafana coach Joel Santana hasn’t used Siphiwe Tshabalala enough, preferring him as a super-sub later in the game. Hopefully Parreira will see things differently. We hooked up with Siphiwe at the newly built Orlando Stadium to bounce some questions…
Where were you Born
I was born in Phiri, Soweto, just 7 minutes west from the Orlando Stadium here.
How does living here inspire you?
A lot of things happen in the Jozi. Even before I was born. For me to live in a place that has such a rich history really means a lot.
Growing up here, did you ever think you’d make a career out of football?
Ja, I had that belief when I was still young. Every kid on the street played soccer, but at the age of 10 I realised I had potential and that I could make something out of this. So that’s when it all started.
What happened when you were 10?
I was very good at soccer. Very skillful and I was always playing with the older guys.
Which team did you support growing up?
Kaizer Chiefs all the way!
Which players in the National set up inspire you?
Benni McCarthey. I adore good things. I like copying good things. I’m not jealous. Teko Modise is doing well and Steven Pienaar.
Which players are you looking forward to matching on the field at next year’s World Cup?
Messi, Ronaldo, Xavi and Iniesta. I like their style of play, the way they control the ball and the way they move. Every time they play, they take charge of the game.
Have you got something special you want to show them on the field next year?
It’s about believing in yourself. When you get on the field you must have confidence and forget about everything, put your focus on the game from the first whistle to the last.
What makes you perform on the field?
Whenever I take the field I know my family is behind me, God is behind me and the supporters fill the stadium to watch me play.
What are your hopes and aspirations for after the World Cup?
To play overseas. I want to go to England.
Are people knocking on the door yet?
It’s just speculation, but I’d love to play there.
Currently you’re playing off the bench for Bafana. Is that frustrating?
Ja, but for me to be there is great. If given a chance, I’ll do my best. It’s not easy but I just try and keep it positive.
Tell us about your family.
It’s just me and my younger sister. She’s 11. I look after her.
How do you relate to being a celebrity?
Ja it’s not easy to be famous, to be a public figure. You know I’m a role model, I can’t drink in public. I have to look after myself. Once I’ve achieved my goals, I can start doing such things, but not yet. And I don’t drink.
What if you win the Champions League and there’s some champagne?
Ja, two sips will do.
If you weren’t a professional football player what would you be?
I wanted to be a chartered accountant.
Did you want to be a CA because you like numbers or because you want to make a lot of money?
I wanted to make a lot of money, because I didn’t have a good understanding of finance.
But now you earn a lot of money as a football player?
It’s not a lot, but it puts food on the table.
What will you do when your career is over.
I’m saving as much as I can and I’m investing in property. So when I retire from football I’ll probably continue doing that.
Where can we find you online?
No, I deactivated my Facebook account. There are too many stories there. You find you’re married or engaged to some people you don’t even know. But I might get into this Twitter thing.
What is your career highlight so far?
To wear the boot that has my name on it. To be the frontman of Nike AIR 360. I was the first one to get this boot in Africa.
So they make a signature boot with your name on it.
Ja, I’m honoured and privileged.
Find out more about Siphiwe and the other Nike IAM1 Revolutionaries here.