‘Where did it all go wrong?’ – Mbulelo Mabizela

Some players possess great talent, but ability alone will not get you to the top, as you need the right attitude to succeed. Mbulelo Mabizela is the perfect example of this. An extraordinary talent, his poor attitude ruined his chances at Tottenham and have tarnished his whole career. The Mabizela situation could serve as a warning to every youngster at Spurs that talent can only get you so far. Where did it all go wrong with Mbulelo Mabizela?

Spurs fans will remember Mabizela as a promising talent who let his ego and attitude ruin his time at White Hart Lane. A Glenn Hoddle signing, he had all the ability to be great: a strong, pacy defender with good composure on the ball and an excellent tackler, Mabizela captained South Africa at 20 years old and was described as the “next Lucas Radebe”.

In his fourteen month spell at Tottenham, from 2003 to 2004, Mabizela struggled to adapt to life in England, only making 9 appearances for the club, but he did score an absolutely brilliant goal against Leicester City. Mabizela had his contract terminated at Spurs due to a series of disciplinary problems, which included turning up to training drunk, missing training altogether and being stripped of the South Africa captaincy for going AWOL for three months.

The ironic thing is that Mabizela was nicknamed “Old John” in South Africa, for displaying maturity beyond his years. But I don’t think getting caught drink-driving, like he did in 2009, and getting banned for six months due to drug offences, constitute maturity from a professional footballer.

Since leaving Spurs, Mabizela’s attitude has cost him dear. Failed spells at Valerenga in Norway and South African team Mamelodi Sundowns were marred by disciplinary problems and so has his stint at current club Platinum Stars.

Mabizela has played in 44 games for South Africa and as mentioned above, was their youngest ever captain at 20 years old. His form for Platinum Stars has led to calls for a return to the South Africa squad for the World Cup in June, but so far coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has resisted such a notion.

Mabizela’s career has to go down as a massive disappointment considering his early promise. It just goes to show that a bad attitude will destroy a reputation and overshadow a great talent so easily.

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