George Maluleka’s journey to the top of SA football

AmaZulu midfielder George Maluleka in action. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

AmaZulu midfielder George Maluleka in action. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Published Mar 31, 2023


Durban — AmaZulu FC midfielder George Nyiko Maluleka said when he was growing up, he used to follow Wayne Rooney, Zinedine Zidane, Andres Iniesta, Andrea Pirlo and Ronaldinho. He said he watched these players and took aspects from each player that contributed to his eventual career.

A proud product of Hospital View in Tembisa, Maluleka said he began playing football at the age of seven with a local club, View Rollers. He would also play for Esselen Park and then Kempton Park FC. It was then that he realised he could go all the way and become a professional.

“My best childhood football memory was when I won the Philly’s Games with View Rollers at the under-13 level. That was a highlight for me,” Maluleka said.

Maluleka started primary school at Olifantsfontein Primary before moving to Tersia King Learning Academy in Grade 3. He stayed there for one year before completing his education at Tuks Academy. He said he stopped in matric as he was already in his pro contract with SuperSport United.

“The Academy made sure that I put my education first. When I moved, though, there was a lot of travelling, and that is why I did not pursue further studies. I am going to study a course soon, just deciding at the moment,” said Maluleka.

The 2006/07 season was his first season and, ironically, his professional debut came against his current side, AmaZulu.

“I came off as a substitute just a few months after completing matric. We narrowly lost 1-0 but due to my performance, I managed to stay for another two seasons before moving to Ajax Cape Town,” said Maluleka.

George Maluleka during his Tuks Academy days. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Maluleka has played in various positions from defence to midfield. He said he preferred to play as a boxto-box midfielder, or a “number 8”, since he likes the responsibility of both attack and defence.

“Being a part of clubs like Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns was a big thing for me, given where I started. To wear that badge was amazing and to even win silverware was a good feeling. Winning titles contributed to me pushing myself and having a long career,” said Maluleka.

Over the course of his career, Maluleka has won league titles with SuperSport United, Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns. He has also won the Nedbank Cup with Mamelodi Sundowns. Individually, he won the MTN 8 Last Man Standing award (awarded to the player of the tournament) while at Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns. He added that playing in the CAF Champions League and scoring in it was a highlight for him.

“I was 22 in 2011, and in my national team debut we played versus Ivory Coast. Playing against the likes of Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou and Yaya Toure was a dream for me as they were giants of African football. I also got to play with legendary South African players like Siphiwe Tshabalala and Katlego Mphela,” said Maluleka.

The midfielder said Amazulu had a good start to the season but as the season went on, they lost rhythm and dropped crucial points. He believes the team can turn the corner in the remaining games and finish in a respectable position.

“My message to the young players is to follow your dreams and don’t stop trying. Set goals for yourself and give it your all.”

Maluleka’s side host Swallows FC on Saturday in their next league game and he expects a difficult encounter as the Dube Birds (as Swallows are known) are not flying high. He said they would be hungry to collect the three points.

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