Dlamini proves doubters wrong by winning Usuthu’s top player award

2010-07-26 00:00

BUSTLING AmaZulu striker Ayanda “Cobra” Dlamini has described his late entry into professional football as a blessing in disguise.

Making his Premier Soccer League debut at the age of 24 at the beginning of last season after having been signed from SAB League side Citizen, Dlamini exceeded expectations by scoring 10 goals.

Before his PSL dream became a reality, Dlamini had to endure being rejected by Platinum Stars and Moroka Swallows six years ago.

He also has come through a tough family background where his parents eked out a living through part-time jobs to feed six children.

Speaking to The Witness after being crowned AmaZulu’s Player of the Year at a function held at Durban’s Playhouse on Friday night, Dlamini said: “I think what contributed largely to me doing well in my first season in the Premiership is the tough periods I had to endure while pursuing my dream to make it in big-time football.

“Silver [now Platinum] Stars and Swallows rejected me six years ago. But that did not discourage me and eventually made me stronger.

“I had to show that I have been yearning for a chance to showcase my ability when AmaZulu signed me. Former coach Neil Tovey and my team-mates helped me a lot in adapting quickly.”

Dlamini revealed that while patiently waiting for a crack at the professional level, he picked up a lot about the habits of football stars.

“I used to read a lot about the soccer stars and watch their lifestyles on TV. When I made it to the PSL, I knew how to take care of my career having seen how other stars have gone off the rails over the years.

“I live a simple, clean life because I have the responsibility back home now that my parents have passed on. They entrusted me with the task to look after my siblings when they are gone; hence I enrolled for a nursing course from which I have a certificate. I know my parents are happy about what I have just achieved now.”

Dlamini said that after impressing then Stars coach Owen da Gama, the management felt they could not sign an untested youngster because the team structure at that time was centred around results.

After playing for Swallows’ under-19 development side, then-coach Gavin Hunt did not have enough faith in the youngster to promote him to the senior side.

Dlamini had to wait for six seasons to show Hunt how wrong he was.

During last season’s MTN8 clash against Hunt’s SuperSport United at Chatsworth Stadium, Dlamini came off the bench to put his side ahead with a well-taken finish, before a late equaliser by the visitors.

The Durban side went on to win the match on penalties.

Maintaining the standard set last season and forging his way into the Bafana Bafana squad are amongst Dlamini’s primary goals for the coming season.

Other AmaZulu winners were rising goalkeeper Mbongeni “Kati” Mzimela for the Improved Player award, while midfielder Litha Ngxabi bagged the Players’ Player award.

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