Johannesburg to Dallas: How Tsiki Ntsabeleng forged a professional career despite the naysayers

Frisco, Texas – The 2010 FIFA World Cup was a turning point in the life and career of new FC Dallas midfielder Tsiki Ntsabeleng (pronounced Seekee Ensa-beleng).

Ntsabeleng was 12 when Spain and the Netherlands played in the World Cup final in his hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa. Spain clinched their first World Cup crown with a 1-0 victory that would help solidify their golden generation – embodied by small, technically gifted midfielders – as one of the best international sides the game has ever seen. .

And for Ntsabeleng, the Spanish win proved he has a place in the sport.

“For most of my career I was told I was too short to play,” said Ntsabeleng, who is now 5ft 6in. “But when I saw a team like Spain, with all the little players winning the World Cup, it kind of motivated me and showed that it’s possible for everyone despite their size. And For me, that’s the biggest inspiration I’ve really had. Even if you’re a small player, it doesn’t matter. If you work hard, you can still achieve your dreams.

Ntsabeleng was introduced to the sport by his father, River Ntsabeleng. Young Ntsabeleng even slept with a football on his pillow at that time. “I think that’s how I really fell in love with the game,” he says.

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