For UJ striker Gerald Ndlovu, it all started a year after he was born in 1998. A family member started calling him Bebeto after a Brazilian national player who was setting the world on fire. The name stuck and Ndlovu says from then onwards he was just channeling his inner soccer player.
Varsity Football sat down with Ndlovu to talk all things football and what the 2023 Men’s Varsity Football tournament means to him.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Matsulu in Mpumalanga and grew up in Johannesburg.
What are you studying?
National Diploma in Sports Management.
How long have you been playing soccer?
I've been playing football for 20 years now.
Have you always played your current position, if not, which other?
No, I have not, I started playing as a centre-back and central midfield.
Take us through your journey of becoming a soccer player.
Well, it started with my first birthday gift, it wasn't a toy car but a size 3 replica of the ’98 World Cup ball and a Brazilian onesie. Fast forward to when I turned 7 and when I joined Lonehill Celtics, I then moved to Midas Football Academy when I was 14 before joining the Stars of Africa at age 17.
Tell us about the recent international contract that you got.
Coach Karabo Mogudi introduced us to someone who has international opportunities, and we then liaised with him until I signed for Progres Warszawa in Poland. They are playing in the 5th League and it’s a one-year contract.
How are you finding the league in comparison to the local one?
The level is very high, the players are very physical and they are tactically and technically on a high level but they are not as silky.
Which teams did you play for before this opportunity you just got?
I was on the books of Jomo Cosmos for three-and-a-half years and went back to UJ for a few months before making my way here.
How was your working relationship with your former coach Karabo Mogudi?
“Solve for X" that's what I called him. It was great, I Improved so much in a short period. I would be grateful to work with him again. I've worked with a lot of high-profile coaches but for me, he's top of that list and he's just more than a coach.
How did the UJ Football Club play a role in becoming who you are now?
UJ elevated my game, everything is professional, not only in how one prep for football but for life and life after football. From the life conversation with the grounds-men to laughs with the bus drivers, motivation from the physios to torture from the gym instructors. All of these moments have contributed to my growth not only as an elite athlete but also becoming a better human being.
Full fixture list HERE.
Information on tickets HERE.
by Gontse Mabale