George Lebese, who has earned himself the nickname “Finidi George” from kaizerchiefs.com, is without a doubt one of the brightest youngsters currently in the books of the Amakhosi.
His technique and well-decorated left foot make him one of the stars of the future. Currently out with an injury, “Georghinho” took time to answer questions from fans about his plans for the future and what he is doing to keep his feet on the ground.
How does it feel to play for a big Club like Kaizer Chiefs?
George Lebese: It is an honour for me to play for the same Club that has produced legends like Doctor Khumalo. I hope to follow in their footsteps. I know, with hard work and discipline, I have a lot to contribute in the Club in future.
I also grew up supporting the Club, but at home they all supported Sundowns and they threatened to stop buying clothes for me if I kept on supporting a ‘team from Johannesburg while I am born in Mamelodi’. Eventually I supported Sundowns, but since signing for Chiefs I am back…proud to call myself Khosi 4 Life!
What are your future ambitions and how are you going to make sure that fame does not go to your head as it has happened with other younger players in the past?
George Lebese: I want to represent my country at the highest level and then go on to play overseas. I do not want to play for any club in South Africa because when you are at Chiefs, you have reached your ceiling as a player as far as Club football goes in South Africa. My burning ambition really is to represent my country. It all starts here at Chiefs though. I have to work hard and start playing regularly to achieve my dream.
It is just a bit of advice from my side that if you could protect the ball more and improve your crosses you would be an incredible player. Please also be disciplined.
George Lebese: Thank you for the advice. Talent alone is not enough for a player to reach his full potential in football and discipline becomes very important. I have been lucky to be surrounded by players like Thabo Mooki, who always told me to behave. I have also noticed that I need to work more on protecting the ball and improving my crosses. I am doing extra sessions to make sure that I improve on this.
What keeps you motivated even if you are not getting game time and what car do you drive?
George Lebese: The will to deliver for my Club is what makes me wake up every day and come to training. I want to play and, for me to play, it is important that I show the coach at training.
I do not have a car at the moment and I get a lift from a teammate, Punch Masenamela. I hope to get one soon!
Where are you from and whom do you hang around with at Chiefs? Where do you see yourself in five years?
George Lebese: I was born in Mamelodi. My dad’s name is Sam and my mom’s name is Delphine. I am the second and last-born at home and my brother is Patrick. He is a dee-jay and stays with me here in Joburg. I hang around a lot with other ‘left footers’, (Mthokozisi) Yende and Punch (Masenamela).
In five years I see myself in Europe.
What are you doing to increase your chances of getting to the starting 11, because in my view, Siphiwe Tshabalala can do more damage in the centre?
George Lebese: I always want to better things that Shabba (Siphiwe Tshabalala) can’t do (laughing). Shabba for instance is very good with crosses and set pieces. I try to give the coach something different. I must say that Shabba is also very supportive and encourages me all the time. He says that I have what it takes to take over from him if it happens that he goes overseas…and I agree with him!
As one of the younger players in the team is there anything you are doing, like studying? Do you have a girlfriend and who is your role model at the Club?
George Lebese: Just before I got injured I had planned to register for Sports Management and I was forced to postpone those plans until next year. I have realised that it is important for me to back my talent with education and I would like to work in the sports field.
I do not have a girlfriend at the moment and I am still looking (smiling).
The Chairman, Mr. Kaizer Motaung, is my role model in the team! He has touched so many lives and he remains humble. He does not think of himself alone and you have to look at what he has done in grooming legends in this Club. He is one of a kind and is there with the likes of Tata uMandela!
Who is your favourite player local and international?
George Lebese: I will start international, it has to be Robinho! I asked him during the Vodacom Challenge final to exchange jerseys but he asked me to do that inside the tunnel, as he does not like showing off his body on the pitch. I did not follow up and ended up exchanging with Gareth Barry. During the Vodacom Challenge in 2008 I exchanged with Nemaja Vidic and I am going to frame both jerseys.
Back to your question; locally my favourite player used to be Teko Modise, but not now.
Which team did you start playing for in Mamelodi? Was it the tough No Fear FC or any other soccer team in around Mamelodi?
George Lebese: (Laughing) It all started at Jusben FC and then I joined Khona Lapho FC. I then joined Arcadia Sheppards in town -- the same team that has produced Tomas Madigage and Mark Fish.
How would you describe yourself and how far do you think Bafana Bafana will go in the World Cup?
George Lebese: I am a down to earth guy who is always willing to learn. I also like going out and have fun, as I am still young (smiles).
I think Bafana Bafana will reach the second round for sure!
What music do you like listening to?
George Lebese: I like hip hop and anything by Lyle Wayne does it for me.
When did you realise that football could be your career?
George Lebese: I think it has to be at the age of seven. I was enjoying myself as a youngster and people started encouraging me and went to my home to alert my parents to my talent. My parents did not watch me so they never thought I would make it this far. I realised that I needed to work harder and I know slowly but surely I will get far with discipline. I am also backing that with education, as indicated earlier.
Kaizerchiefs.com, together with George Lebese, thank you for your patience and words of advice.