Lorenzo Gordinho

On be­com­ing a key man for club and coun­try

Kick Off - - INSIDE - MARK GLEE­SON Twit­ter: @mark­gleeson­foot

LORENZO GORDINHO: It was in­cred­i­ble. The coach (Stu­art Bax­ter) came in and in­stilled the be­lief in us that if we were mo­ti­vated, if we took this se­ri­ously, we could go far as a na­tion … and as play­ers and grow to the next level. So ev­ery­one de­cided to take it upon them­selves to be the best that they could be at the time. We played an in­cred­i­ble game against Nige­ria. It was a good feel­ing. It was sur­real. It fi­nally hap­pened where I got to rep­re­sent the na­tional team. I was happy and I was look­ing for­ward to the game. It was go­ing well when we were 1-0 ahead and I thought we were go­ing to win the game com­fort­ably. But the end re­sult did not take the route I wanted it to. But it was still a good game. I learnt a lot from the ex­pe­ri­ence, play­ing in­ter­na­tional foot­ball and against a team like Zam­bia. They are a good team. The ex­pe­ri­ence helped boost me as a player and my con­fi­dence went up, even though we lost,


be­cause I was able to han­dle my own within that game.

What do you think of your chances of get­ting more reg­u­lar Bafana Bafana ac­tion con­sid­er­ing there is Mu­lo­mowan­dau Mathoho and Thulani Hlatshwayo, plus Ri­valdo Coetzee in the mix and Buhle Mkhwanazi to come back from his in­jury?

Ob­vi­ously we have to welcome the com­pe­ti­tion. It’s good for the coun­try. If the coach has eight cen­tre backs to choose from and he’s got a headache de­cid­ing on a pair­ing, then that will be good for the coun­try be­cause we know on the day that the two who get paired to­gether are go­ing to do the best job. It will also help us all to grow as play­ers to know we are all com­pet­ing.

Af­ter Bax­ter left Chiefs you got reg­u­lar game time at Amakhosi …

I played four games un­der him [Bax­ter] but I was pro­moted up to the first team squad in his sec­ond sea­son in charge. I un­der­stand him and I think he un­der­stands me as a player. I got to learn a lot work­ing with him at Chiefs. He helped me a lot with set­ting the ba­sis and foun­da­tion to get to the next step in my ca­reer be­cause what he told me and showed me, I was able to – not per­fect but – get right. And when coach Steve [Kom­phela] came in I was able to per­form with what I had been taught un­der coach Stu­art.

Can you pic­ture your­self in Rus­sia at the World Cup fi­nals next year?

I think it’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand we still have to go through the qual­i­fiers. There have been some good re­sults but we haven’t qual­i­fied as yet. We have to keep on go­ing. The coach said af­ter we beat Nige­ria, “It’s just the be­gin­ning”. I think it’s im­por­tant for ev­ery­one to take con­fi­dence out of the Nige­ria game but also re­main re­al­is­tic. There are still four games to go to qualify for the World Cup. Once the job is done and we are go­ing, only then can we start cel­e­brat­ing. But the job isn’t done yet. And I think that’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber be­cause we can­not af­ford to be­come com­pla­cent.

Has be­ing a Chiefs main­stay changed your life in the sense that you can’t walk around with­out be­ing recog­nised?

It does change your life in the sense that you have to re­spect the club’s brand and re­spect that you are rep­re­sent­ing the club even when you are not on the field. Ob­vi­ously, any de­ci­sions you make have to be with the club in mind and with your ca­reer in mind as well. So, yes, it’s a big change from what you did be­fore you were at the club to what you do now. You are now in the pub­lic eye. But I think it’s a good ef­fect be­cause you are forced to be more pro­fes­sional, to re­spect the game and forced to re­spect your­self as well.

But there must be some malls where you know you can’t go be­cause you won’t get out alive be­cause of all the fans mob­bing you?

There are ar­eas you try to avoid, es­pe­cially if you are tired af­ter train­ing. You do try to avoid malls be­cause when peo­ple catch on that you are there, then ob­vi­ously you can’t say no [to a selfie]. Well, for me, I don’t like to say no to peo­ple who come over when they recog­nise me. I al­ways try and make the time.

And what do your fam­ily and friends make of your celebrity sta­tus?

I think they just see me as their friend and I’m still a son to my par­ents. They don’t see me as Lorenzo Gordinho from Kaizer Chiefs. They see me as their son, which is also good be­cause visit www.kick­off.com

it keeps things hum­ble and keeps things nor­mal. With my friends it’s the same. Now they come to watch me play. I’m achiev­ing things but they still treat me the same way they did when I was in high school. I’d like to con­tinue play­ing at the club and win sil­ver­ware. Ob­vi­ously, an im­por­tant part of any player’s ca­reer is to win sil­ver­ware; to be part of a team that wins sil­ver­ware and that makes history. I’d like to be a reg­u­lar within the Bafana set up. I’m go­ing to fight for my po­si­tion and look to es­tab­lish my­self in the na­tional team. And then I’ll take it from there. I haven’t set goals too far in the fu­ture be­cause I like to fo­cus on what’s hap­pen­ing around me now. Just a con­tin­u­a­tion of where I’m go­ing at the mo­ment and just to con­tinue with what I’ve been do­ing. I have to adapt and change things about my game and how I am as a per­son to grow in my ca­reer.

So are you happy with how you have pro­gressed over the last two sea­sons and be­come a Chiefs reg­u­lar?

I am happy but I’m very hard on my­self and some­times I feel like I could have done more. I al­ways strive to be per­fect but some­times it just doesn’t hap­pen. But I’ve also learnt to take each game as it comes. Take ev­ery op­por­tu­nity. When I crit­i­cise my­self I try to do it fairly and give my­self a chance to grow. Some­times I ex­pect my­self to be at the high­est level im­me­di­ately and I think that was the hard­est part be­cause I was too hard on my­self. The way we fin­ished last sea­son, I wasn’t par­tic­u­larly happy and the club wasn’t happy and I did some in­tro­spec­tion and felt I could have done more.

In what par­tic­u­lar ar­eas?

As a whole, I just felt we needed to sac­ri­fice our­selves more for the team. Ev­ery player was con­tribut­ing but we were con­tribut­ing to the team through our own per­for­mances. If we were to sac­ri­fice as a team for the team, maybe things would have been dif­fer­ent.

This com­ing sea­son? Try and win as much as you can?

That’s all! Just go for the kill, try and win ev­ery game, go for ev­ery tro­phy there is.

In terms of the way you play, what do you think your best as­set is that you bring to the team?

Tough one … maybe the abil­ity to both de­fend and to play. [I’m] not just a ball player and not just an out-and­out de­fender. My abil­ity to do both is some­thing that has been help­ing me through­out my ca­reer be­cause there will be games where I just need to de­fend prop­erly and there will be games where I have to be a ball player and I have to play with the team.

What is your sense of what Chiefs might be able to do this sea­son?

I do have a good feel­ing about the sea­son. I re­ally think things will go well at the club and we’ll start the sea­son look­ing for­ward to achiev­ing things. I just want to con­tinue pro­gress­ing to the next level of my ca­reer and achiev­ing more. Scor­ing more goals, achiev­ing awards, win­ning sil­ver­ware with the club.

What’s nicer for you: mak­ing a big fat tackle to save a cer­tain goal or stick­ing the ball in the back of the net your­self?

[Laughs] I asked my­self that ques­tion the other day! I don’t know. Some tack­les that I pull off, I think “Wow!” I think I should cel­e­brate af­ter a good slide tackle and then I’ll see what feels bet­ter. But putting the ball in the net is a nice feel­ing. It’s a weird feel­ing. You don’t know what to do with your­self.

Even if you knock it in with your hand ev­ery now and then!

“[Laughs] Nice one!”

(Main) Lorenzo Gordinho ready to face Or­lando Pirates in the Car­ling Black La­bel Cup.

(Be­low) Gordinho leap­ing for a header against Tan­za­nia in the COSAFA Cup quar­ter-fi­nal.

(Above) Lorenzo chal­leng­ing Pirates’ Tham­sanqa Gabuza.

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