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'I want to play in the World Cup' 22/04/04
Despite the indignity of not playing for more than a year, not being paid a salary and not receiving treatment for his injured right ankle, Thabo Mngomeni is adamant that he can still star in Castle Premiership next season.

The former Orlando Pirates star, who will be 35 in June, is at home in Eerste Rivier, Cape Town awaiting payment from the last club he played for, Hellenic.

Thibos, as he is popularly known, spoke to SAsoccer365.com about the highs and lows of a discarded national hero.

"I've won the case against Hellenic with the help of the players union," Mngomeni started before adding, "but when I get the money it's another issue."

Hellenic have to pay the injured Mngomeni his outstanding salary, from July 2003 to January 2004. However the money will go straight into paying the debts that the former South African international has incurred since his unofficial retirement.

"I have to go for an ankle operation once I get the money, it will cost me about R11000,00.

"Once that is done I can then start concentrating on looking for a club and resurrecting my soccer career."

Mngomeni has set his aims high, and as soon as he can kick a ball, he'll be challenging the likes of Steven Pienaar for a place in the national squad.

"My dream is to play in the World Cup, I've been there before but did not get a chance to play so I'd really love to do that.

Asked whether or not he's not too old, the former Cape Town Spurs and Bush Bucks player referred to the 'golden oldies' of the Castle Premiership.

"Look at Shoes (John Moshoeu) and Wire (Ernest Mtwali)," Mngomeni said convincingly, "I know I can offer any team and the national squad my experience when I see these older guys doing their thing.

"I could still play another two or three seasons. Once my operation is done I'll can regain my fitness and I don't think there will be much that can stop me.

Mngomeni has been through the toughest of times since being rejected by Hellenic. The player lives on his own and often has to call his mother to supply him with a meal. He also lost his black Audi S3.

However, he is confident that he will come out on top, as he always has done in the past.

"I've been through tough times, not only now but throughout my life, and I've come out tops time and again. I was the only Xhosa at Pirates and yet I lead the team in my time there.

"Since my problems with Hellenic I've gotten into debt, lost my car and had to depend more and more on my mother for help.

"But that is the one thing that gives me strength, my family," an emotional Mngomeni exclaimed.

With the belief the Cape Town native exudes and the steely determination he has shown at the six professional clubs he has played for, the dread-locked Mngomeni could, once again, grace the football fields of the Republic.               








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