Late bloomer Lamola has golden boots

2015-03-15 15:00

Bloemfontein Celtic striker Lerato Lamola came to the Absa Premiership relatively late – he was just shy of 27 when he signed his professional contract last season.

Although the Limpopo-born player is only going into his second season in the elite league, he boasts impressive statistics in his 17-month spell in the PSL.

Lamola is one of the current contenders for the Lesley Manyathela Golden Boot award with nine goals prior to this weekend’s league fixtures.

The tally is three more than the six he scored in all competitions in his debut season.

“I made it in the PSL at 27 because I actually went to school full time to further my studies before I pursued my dream of playing professional soccer,” said Lamola, who graduated with a national diploma in logistics management from the Tshwane University of Technology in 2009.

His journey into football began soon after he completed his studies, although he was unable to finish his bachelor of technology degree.

He also had to quit his day job as a fleet manager at a waste management company based in Midrand, Johannesburg.

His job was closer to his clubs – he formerly played for Tembisa-based national first division (NFD) sides Tigers FC and Vardos FC, under the guidance of Orlando Pirates legendary striker ­Jerry Sikhosana.

Celtic signed him from Roses United in June 2013 after he finished as one of the NFD top ­scorers with eight goals at the end of the 2012/13 season.

“Age doesn’t play football, but it is the performance on the field that determines whether a player is capable or not,” said Lamola, whose team-mates have nicknamed him “malome ­[uncle]” because he is one of the oldest players in the squad.

His passion for the game is evident when he shows off one of his many celebration styles.

These days, Lamola does a bum bunny-hopper, which he said was inspired by Democratic Republic of Congo and TP Mazembe’s 39-year-old goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba.

“Kidiaba inspires me because he oozes energy and enthusiasm for someone of his age. I am enjoying his trademark celebration, although it is not easy to copy.”

Lamola, who was voted Celtic’s rookie of the season, has already bagged two man of the match awards this season.

“Initially, I had not targeted the golden boot, but chances are there now. I’ll have to fight hard, but I can only achieve that goal with the help of my team mates.”

Lamola has credited current coach Clinton Larsen, former Celtic coach Ernst Middendorp and Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba for believing in him despite his advanced age. He turns 29 on June 17.

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