Bafana's most valuable player

Siboniso Gaxa would probably be a youth leader in his church in KwaMashu if his mother, Nonhlanhla, had her way. Maybe his mother was concerned that if her son makes it in football, he will sport a funny hairdo, which he does.

“My mother always wanted me to go to church and never bought me football boots despite my many pleas,” says Gaxa.

But now that the 25-year-old Mamelodi Sundowns and Bafana Bafana right back is living his dream, they (Gaxa and his mother) are able to sit down and talk about Gaxa’s God-given talent. And his mother insists that he prays for guidance everyday.

Prayer and talent have earned him a place in the final Bafana Bafana team for the Fifa Confederations Cup announced on Thursday morning.

Gaxa acknowledges that it has been a bumpy road to stardom.
Like many other children who grew up in townships, he started playing football in the streets of KwaMashu at the age of four. He would disappear for hours and come back home - looking dirty - only when it was time to eat. He didn’t have anyone at home he looked up to as a player.

“I started playing football for fun when I stayed with my aunt as a grade-five pupil. My cousin, Ayanda, used to lend me his boots when there was a football match. I enjoyed staying with my aunt because Ayanda had a passion for the game and so did I.

“I had to accept that I did not have boots while other children did, but I never envied them. It is what I was taught at home by my mother and my grandmother. It is nice to admire, but know what you want in life and you will be successful. At the time I only wanted to become a professional footballer and I was slowly knocking on doors,” he says.

Things started looking positive for Gaxa in 2000 when he joined the FC Copenhagen School of Excellence in Port Elizabeth. At the school of excellence he played alongside Bafana Bafana and Blackburn Rovers winger Elrio van Heerden.

His breakthrough came in 2002 when Thomas Madigage, SuperSport United’s assistant coach, was invited by the school’s coach to a training session. Gaxa was impressive and Madigage did not hesitate to sign the talented attacking right back.

“I was offered a contract at the training session,” he said.

The rest, as they say, is history.

He has rarely disappointed when called for duty since joining SuperSport. With Matsatsantsa, Gaxa won the SAA Supa8, Absa Cup and the 2007-2008 Premier Soccer League. At the end of the 2007-2008 season he joined big-spending Sundowns.

“I had the worst season with Sundowns. I’m used to winning cups and a big club like Sundowns should have won something and not finished outside the top eight. Finishing second or third would be acceptable and not what we achieved last season.

“The chopping and changing of coaches and players attributed to our poor performance. I’m generally disappointed and don’t want to find myself in the same situation again. We need someone who will understand the players well and maintain the same combination for a long time.”

For now he wants to focus on the Confederations Cup and making the cut for the 2010 Fifa World Cup team. He believes that playing in both events will increase his chances of playing overseas.

“I want to do well in the Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup. There might be someone out there watching me,” he said.

Gaxa can’t wait for the end of the Confederations Cup as he plans to buy his fifth property. He has four properties in Centurion and Midrand.

“I buy property and rent them out. At least I have something to fall back on. I love this kind of business because it doesn’t require much of my time, which I don’t have. I’m just waiting for the Confederations Cup to end so I can finalise the deal on the fifth one,” he said.

“I’m a hard worker and hard work pays. I wake up at 5am in the morning and do some road running before the club’s training session and work out in the gym in the evening. Look where it has got me. I know what I want in life and always go for it. Prayer has helped me achieve all I have so far,” he said.

The man
Name: Siboniso Gaxa
Age: 25
Team: Mamelodi Sundowns
Position: Right back
Bafana Bafana caps: 19
Favourite overseas player: Dani Alves
Favourite local player: Teko Modise
Car: Audi A3
Other favourite sport: Athletics

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