With a height of over 2 meters and a size 12 shoe, Lungisani Ndlela is more like a rugby player than a soccer player. The 20 year old soccer striker from Swallows is still living in a shock about his move to the Dube Birds from the amateur ranks.
"Masinga" as Lungisani is fast becoming known as, took time out to tell the Swallows faithful a bit more about himself and what he has in store for them this season...
How did your soccer career begin?
After I finished matric in Free State I joined the University of Pretoria soccer team and that was my first move to the world of professional soccer.
How did you join the Beautiful Birds?
In the off season I went to train with Thembisa Classic with the hope that they will sign me. One of the games I played for them was a friendly against Swallows, where Gavin Hunt saw me and he must have been impressed because he asked me to come and join them.
What does it mean to play for Swallows?
I don't know what to say because if there was someone who never believed in dreams it was me but my dreams came true when i joined the Birds. It was my childhood dreams to play for any of the so called big four teams and here I am playing for a so called big four team!
How do you find the level of play in the PSL as opposed to the amateur / semi professional level you were playing at?
This is the first time in my life that I have been able to concentrate on football and at the end of the day I get payed for it. If one looks at that it is a big step from the league I was playing in before and the level of football is miles ahead of the amateur one. I mean here I am, I thought I was a good player already, but when I joined Swallows I discovered that I still has to learn a lot of things about soccer.
Who is your favourite soccer player?
Life is not what we want it to be, I used to look up to Lesley Manyathela but God decided otherwise and up to now I have not looked up to any one as yet.
How and when did you get your nickname 'Masinga'?
When i was still in school they was a teacher who was also my soccer coach who was a great admirer of Phil and I think that he saw similar qualities in me as the great himself Phil Masinga himself.
Do you think Swallows can win the league?
With Gavin Hunt as my coach I have started to believe in my play and in what we do as a team and as a team I think that we have what it takes to go for the big cup.
Have you learnt a lot from your teammates at Swallows?
Swallows works more like a family where everyone looks after one another and that has helped me a lot in my first year in the paid league. I have learnt a lot from the experienced players at the club.
Do you use your height advantage to the fullest?
The way we play at Swallows its not about individual players but a team effort and we don't play so that I have to use my height but if something comes my way that needs my height I go for it.
Do you find being so tall can be a disadvantage?
Not that I have found out that but when ever I'm in the 18 area it seems that I have defenders all over me.
What is your strongest points apart from your height?
What i think is one of my best part of soccer is my turns, I think i have one of the best turns and Gavin is working with me to try and improve even further on that aspect of my game.
What are long term goals?
You see I'm still learning what is expected of a striker and I will give myself about 3 years to become one of the best in the country and then see what happens from there.
Your message to the Birds Fans?
I want to let them know that their support always helps us lift our game, they is nothing that makes us happier than when we know that we have people who are supporting us and at the same time we want to make them happy by winning as many games as possible.