Pocket rocket

KURT ABRA­HAMS may be small in stature, but the Bel­gian-based at­tack­ing mid­fielder packs a punch and is prov­ing a point to the South African clubs who re­jected him due to his size.

Kick Off - - INTERNATIONAL FEATURE - By Nick Said

The name Kurt Abra­hams is not one that will res­onate with many South African foot­ball fans, but at Bel­gian club Sint-Truiden they be­lieve he is a spe­cial tal­ent with the po­ten­tial to reach the very top. Quiet and unas­sum­ing, Abra­hams prefers to let his work on the pitch do the talk­ing, hav­ing trav­elled a dif­fi­cult path to pro­fes­sional foot­ball. Colin Gie, his men­tor and the man who groomed Abra­hams through Cape United, for­merly FC For­tune, has no doubt that the 20-year-old is des­tined for big things after help­ing him win a move to Bel­gium. “Kurt was strug­gling at school and so after speak­ing with the fam­ily, we ad­vised them to al­low him to fol­low his dream of be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional foot­baller in Europe,” Gie tells KICK OFF. “We had lit­tle doubt of his qual­i­ties after groom­ing him for five years at Cape United.” Gie con­firms that Abra­hams had found it hard to win suit­ors in the lo­cal mar­ket, and adds that his qual­ity is more ap­pre­ci­ated in Europe. “Due to his size many of our pro­fes­sional clubs in South Africa re­jected him. He has spe­cial at­tributes both on and off the field which will cer­tainly stand him in good stead as we take him for­ward one step at a time to what we be­lieve will be a hugely suc­cess­ful pro­fes­sional ca­reer in Europe and for his coun­try.” Abra­hams was raised in Laven­der Hill, a Cape Town sub­urb no­to­ri­ous for gang­ster­ism, but says a solid fam­ily struc­ture kept him in line. “I was very in­flu­enced by my par­ents and grand­par­ents grow­ing up, they pro­vided a solid up­bring­ing in dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances,” Abra­hams says. The then teenager won over the Sint-Truiden tech­ni­cal team, which at the time in­cluded Benni Mc­Carthy and South African-raised Chris O’Lough­lin, when he went for a trial in July 2015 and was of­fered a con­tract. “It was a dream come true after months of hard work fol­low­ing good, and not so good times. Be­ing a pro­fes­sional foot­baller in Europe takes to­tal ded­i­ca­tion and be­ing fo­cused all the time as com­pe­ti­tion for places in the team is tough.” Abra­hams has been used spar­ingly at the

start of the 2017/18 sea­son, but did fea­ture off the bench in a fa­mous 3-2 win for Sint-Truiden over cham­pi­ons An­der­lecht in Au­gust. “It is about tak­ing things one step at a time. My am­bi­tion now is to ce­ment a reg­u­lar place in our first team squad and to get more game-time,” he says. “I be­lieve in my­self, so I will just con­tinue to en­joy ev­ery minute on the train­ing pitch and on match­day, al­ways try to do the best for my team. If I do that, I know the rest will take care of it­self based on my per­for­mances.” Abra­hams’ ver­sa­til­ity is a strength: he can play ei­ther as a cen­tral at­tack­ing mid­fielder or on ei­ther wing, a rar­ity for usu­ally one-footed South African play­ers. His 18-minute hat-trick com­ing off the bench against Meche­len in May this year shot him to promi­nence. “I just played my nor­mal at­tack­ing game and luck­ily ev­ery­thing fell into place on the night,” he says. “My team­mates, the coach­ing staff and the fans were all hugely sup­port­ive af­ter­wards.” Asked what he be­lieves is his big­gest as­set, Abra­hams says for him a lot of the game is played in the mind. “At­ti­tude … I al­ways play with max­i­mum en­thu­si­asm, that for me is very im­por­tant,” he says, be­fore de­scrib­ing his more phys­i­cal qual­i­ties. “My first touch and my speed are also im­por­tant to the way I play.” Abra­hams has yet to catch the eye of na­tional team se­lec­tors at any age-group level, but ad­mits that na­tional team rep­re­sen­ta­tion re­mains the ul­ti­mate goal. “It’s ob­vi­ously a dream and some­thing I con­tinue to work to­wards ev­ery day,” he says.

Abra­hams and his Sint-Truiden team­mates after a Pro League Play-off vic­tory.

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