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OJ has his say

Posted on 5 November 2003  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Mbulelo 'OJ' Mabizela has been the quiet man of the Lane in his short Spurs career - so far he's let his feet do the talking.

But it was far from a quiet start to his life in the Premiership when his debut arrived at Leicester City last month.

On for just four minutes as a substitute, OJ almost took the net off Ian Walker's goal with a thunderbolt from 30 yards that helped us to a 2-1 victory.

So what do we know about Mbulelo Mabizela?

He's now 23, born in Pietermaritzburg, near Durban, led what he describes as a 'comfortable' childhood and having impressed at the Sundowns Academy, joined Orlando Pirates via Maritzburg City.

His career then took off spectacularly.

His form for Pirates was magnficent, captaining the side to the South African Premier Soccer League title in 2002-03, named PSL Player of the Year, the club's Player of the Year and Players' Player and SA's Kick Off Magazine Player of the Year.

He flew back with us after our tour of South Africa and he's now living the Premiership dream.

'OJ' a nickname derived from Oldjohn, his mother's maiden name, talked to www.spurs.co.uk about life at the Lane...

How have you settled in?
Everything has been going the way I think things should be going. I'm starting to settle well, I've played a few games as substitute and I'm happy, things are going very well.

It can't have been easy - you have come from a completely different world.
I knew that it was going to be that way. I have just kept my head up and carried on working hard.

Not just football, but life must be so different?
Life is different. But as I've said, when you have settled in, they will change because you have to adjust to whatever comes. I'm not too worried about the lifestyle, I'm just focusing on my career and things will change as time goes on.

How are things different in terms of being a footballer?
As a footballer, there isn't much difference. In South Africa, of course, I was closer to my family and friends, here I have no friends yet, no family. I have been on my own. That is the problem right now but as time goes on I will make friends.

We first saw you in Durban, playing for South Africa. Tell us about your life back home, your childhood...
I grew up in Pietermaritzburg, about 30 minutes from Durban. I had an enjoyable childhood. We weren't that poor at home, we were comfortable. I wouldn't say I grew up in a difficult time.

Our summer tour was the first time many of the Spurs party had been to South Africa and certainly what stuck in my mind was driving around looking at the contrasts of rich and poor. That was quite difficult to comprehend, but I suppose it's life to you.
I don't really know what to say. That's how life is. There will be some people who are poor and some people who are stable. That's life.

When did football come into your life.
I grew up playing football. My father was a footballer. It was in my blood. I wouldn't screw up because I had football. No other sport, just football, football, football, hoping to get where I am today and it happened.

You are 23, South African captain and playing in the Premiership. It's quite an achievement.
It is a great achievement. It's been a surprise with the way it's happened, it's been so quick. I wasn't really expecting things to happen so fast.

What about that goal at Leicester?
It was a great goal. I took my chance and banged it in. I went over to the fans and they have been great, they are great fans.

Your are now in the squad, what are the targets for the rest of the season?
I'm looking forward to be a regular. I'm working hard to prove myself. I don't know when that will happen, but I will keeping working.