Siphiwe Tsha­bal­ala talks liv­ing his dream in Turkey

He’s al­ways wanted to play over­seas and now Siphiwe Tsha­bal­ala can tick that goal off his bucket list

DRUM - - Contents - THOLAKELE MNGANGA BY

HE’S achieved ev­ery mile­stone he set for him­self. Play­ing pro­fes­sional foot­ball, get­ting into the Premier Soc­cer League, then rep­re­sent­ing his coun­try in the game he loves – all done. But there was one dream he’d pa­tiently been wait­ing and pray­ing for and now Siphiwe Tsha­bal­ala (33) is liv­ing it.

He left SA to play over­seas af­ter sign­ing with Turk­ish club Erzu­rum­spor on a two-year deal. And so far the move has been great, he tells DRUM, just weeks af­ter he made his first ap­pear­ance for his new team.

We catch up with him in a tele­phonic in­ter­view be­tween train­ing ses­sions with his new home club.

“I’m prob­a­bly more fa­mous in Turkey than I am at home,” he jokes. Then, more se­ri­ously, adds that work­ing over­seas is a dream come true.

His suc­cess is due to his hard work and his wife Bokang’s prayers, Siphiwe says. “I sat down with my wife, I in­formed her about this deal and she was very sup­port­ive and gave me her full bless­ing.”

He calls her the boss lady. “She dreams my dreams and she is my prayer war­rior. I’m blessed to have her.”

Shabba, as he’s af­fec­tion­ately known by his fans, can’t wait to make his mark in Turkey. So far he seems to be on the right track, with the team an­nounc­ing they gained thou­sands of new Twit­ter fol­low­ers since his move. Hun­dreds of sup­port­ers wel­comed him at the air­port.

“My dream was to be one of the best foot­ballers in the coun­try – play for Chiefs, rep­re­sent South Africa and play abroad,” he says.

“This deal came at the right time. God’s tim­ing is per­fect,” he says, re­fer­ring to crit­ics who said he was too old for the move.

“Peo­ple this side have been amaz­ing since I ar­rived – very lov­ing and ex­cited that I joined the team.”

They are fas­ci­nated by him, even pay­ing a lot of at­ten­tion to his isiphadla (tra­di­tional bracelet). “They love it.”

SIPHIWE has been a firm fan favourite since he made his de­but in the PSL. He ce­mented his place in their hearts when he scored the open­ing goal in the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa.

The dream be­gan in Phiri, Soweto, where he kicked the ball around with friends af­ter school. He started play­ing for the ju­nior Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swal­lows team as a child.

Alexan­dra United gave him his big break when they signed him to the first team in 2004 at the age of 19.

“I was prob­a­bly the youngest and the short­est in the team and I guess I was un­der­mined be­cause of my height.”

He earned a mea­gre R200 a month and was dev­as­tated when he showed the money to his par­ents, Isaac (54) and the late Re­becca.

But they gave him the best ad­vice he’s had, he says. “They said I have been play­ing foot­ball all my life with­out re­ceiv­ing a cent be­cause of the love and pas­sion I have for the game so I must con­tinue do­ing what I love.”

And that is ex­actly what he did, in­spir­ing a gen­er­a­tion of play­ers with his rise to the top. He hopes to keep mo­ti­vat­ing young stars. “Work hard, be­lieve in your­self and don’t lis­ten to naysay­ers – just keep on go­ing.”

His time with the na­tional team may have come to a halt, but he hasn’t shut the door on rep­re­sent­ing Bafana Bafana again. “Play­ing for the na­tional team is ev­ery foot­baller’s dream,” he says. “I’m grate­ful I got the op­por­tu­nity to col­lect 89 caps and I still want to play for the na­tional team. I will do so only if I de­serve to.” He’s come a long way from the teenager who earned that R200. Last year The South African re­ported Siphiwe was one of the top five high­est earn­ers in the PSL, tak­ing home up to R380 000 a month.

But money means noth­ing to his wife, Bokang (32). The former Miss South Africa never stopped be­liev­ing he would get his dream of play­ing over­seas, she tells DRUM proudly.

“We’ve been pray­ing for this for a very, very long time for him and I’m just so proud.”

She adds that “there is noth­ing as beau­ti­ful as watch­ing the per­son you love with all your heart live his dream.”

Even though she’s happy for him, she

‘Work hard, be­lieve in your­self and don’t lis­ten to naysay­ers’

misses him, she says. He’s cur­rently liv­ing in Turkey on his own, but Bokang will be mak­ing monthly trips to see him.

“This guy is my ride or die, he is my bruh and I’m so used to hav­ing him around so it’s bit­ter­sweet – but the sweet by far over­clouds the bit­ter,” she says.

Their son, Owethu (3), also misses his daddy. “At first he thought Daddy is go­ing to camp and he will come back like usual,” she re­calls.

Now he of­ten takes Bokang’s phone to look at pic­tures of his fa­ther. “They FaceTime all the time and give each other kisses on the phone, which is so cute.”

BOKANG is fo­cus­ing on their busi­ness in­ter­ests while her hus­band is away. Along with be­ing an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer and own­ing her own PR com­pany, Bokang and Siphiwe have teamed up to launch a kids’ cloth­ing line called SB Kids – which will be avail­able at a ma­jor re­tail store from the end of this month.

The line is based on the char­ac­ters Su­per Shabba and Princess Bokang, which the former beauty queen says are about in­spir­ing the African child. “We de­cided to cre­ate this cloth­ing brand be­cause we want to spread hope,” she says. “We’ve been this blessed so we can in­spire and give hope to other kids like us. We just want to change the mind­set of kids in the town­ships who are told they are not good enough and let them know there is a dif­fer­ent path they can take.”

Shabba hopes his work and achieve­ments will be re­mem­bered long af­ter he’s hung up his boots. “My great­est le­gacy will be the lives I’ve touched. I want to let my work do the talk­ing.”

He’s had a great ca­reer so far, he re­flects. “I have reached mile­stones, broke records, won tro­phies, achieved a lot. My pas­sion, hard work, per­se­ver­ance, be­lief and faith are what keep me go­ing.”

LEFT: Siphiwe Tsha­bal­ala, who’s made a suc­cess­ful move to Turk­ish side Erzu­rum­spor at age 33.

FROM FAR LEFT: Siphiwe with wife Bokang, who he calls his “prayer war­rior”; the cou­ple’s three-year-old son, Owethu, is miss­ing his dad but they FaceTime reg­u­larly; Shabba with his idol, Doc­tor Khu­malo, and former Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Kom­phela.

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