Grant Margeman, seen here in action during the Under-20 Afcon, hopes to catch the eye of foreign scouts at the Under-20 World Cup. Photo: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – His coach at Ajax Cape Town, Stanley Menzo, describes him as one of the best midfielders he has worked with.

But South Africa’s Under-20 international star Grant Margeman, prefers not to let such praise get into his head.

He favours being grounded and level headed at all times, always keen on putting in an extra shift on the pitch so that he can tap into a level he always wanted to be at since he started playing.

Margeman, who is part of the Amajita squad which will lock horns with Japan in their first Group D match at the Fifa Under-20 World Cup on Sunday (9.45am SA time kickoff), wants to be like South African legend Benni McCarthy.

Margeman grew up in Bonteheuwel in the Cape Flats and soccer, like it was to McCarthy, was his only ticket out of an environment which he dared not allow define who he was to become in life.

It is the shadow of McCarthy’s success that drives him to aspire to become a global star too.

“People are always judging players coming from the Cape Flats,” Margeman said. “But they are seldom presented with chances of playing for top professional sides.

“It was never my plan to join Ajax. But when that opportunity came, I just told myself that if players like Benni, who come from a similar background as I do, could go out there and make a name for themselves, then I too could also do it.

“It is never easy breaking into Ajax’s first team. And when my coach gave me my first chance, I just told myself that I was going to treat each match as if it were a cup final. And that worked for me. My first match was against Bloemfontein Celtic, and I must say that I had a good game there.”

Margeman intends to continue with that same attitude when Amajita take on Japan, Uruguay and Italy, as they look to progress to the knockout stages of the global showpiece.

The midfielder believes not only will this type of attitude help his side survive their group, but it will also help him earn the move abroad he is longing for.

“If you can see it in your mind, then you will achieve it,” Margeman says.

“It’s going to be a difficult tournament for us, though. But in my view, that’s good because we go there as underdogs and no one is expecting us to do well there.

“It’s an added advantage for us because we can actually go out there with no pressure resting on our shoulders to deliver results, and showcase the exciting flair we are known for on the pitch.

Benni McCarthy is Bafana’s leading scorer with 32 goals. Photo: Matthews Baloyi


“This is also a big opportunity for us as players because you never know who is watching. There’ll be a whole lot of scouts watching, and my primary focus is to work hard for the team and, hopefully, the individual glory (of being scouted) will come afterwards.”

Asked who has been the inspiration for him breaking into the professional scene at such a young age, Margeman said: “My grandmother. She was the one who used to attend all of my games when I started out, and used to tell me that I should keep on working hard.

“She used to ask me this question: ‘How bad do you want it? If you want it that bad enough, then you should go out there and get it. No one can stand in your way but yourself. Go out there... and make it happen’.

“She’s been so supportive of me playing career, and I just want to make her even more proud.”

@Mohau_Ra

Saturday Star

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