A FLAWED genius!
That’s the way I saw an incredible talent called Mbulelo “OJ” Mabizela throwing away a promising career.
It looked like Mzansi had uncovered another diamond when he burst onto the scene at Orlando Pirates in 2001.
But unfortunately, a great talent was wasted.
He was a brilliant defender who could hold his own as a defensive midfielder.
I reckon OJ could have played anywhere in Europe but when he got his chance,he poured it down the drain… literally.
OJ looked to be on his way to stardom when he was signed by Tottenham Hotspur manager Glen Hoddle after he inspired Bucs to a 2-1 win over Spurs in a pre-season friendly ahead of the 2003-04 season played in Durban.
He became the youngest player at 22 to captain Bafana Bafana in June 2003.
But he was axed by Bafana coach Joel Santana when he went AWOL before a match in October 2008 against Malawi. In 2010, he famously told Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira he was “better than any defender”, but Parreira refused to select him for his World Cup squad due to his poor disciplinary record.
OJ scored one of the goals of the season for Spurs against Leicester City in October 2003.
I remember with pride watching that game and jumped out of my armchair when OJ netted his rocket.
But it was the only shining light in what was a dismal time for OJ at Spurs.
It was where the reports of drinking, coming late and missing training started.
Spurs soon terminated his contract.
Then another London club Fulham offered him a trial, but he was not signed.
Fulham said at the time he was “overweight”.
His troubles escalated in 2006 when he returned to Mzansi to join Mamelodi Sundowns when he was banned for six months for “drug offences”.
He was given another lifeline at Platinum Stars but again had his contract terminated in 2009 for failing to attend training.
But then coach Steve Komphela gave him another chance. However, he was released by Stars in 2011.
He joined Bidvest Wits in 2012 and was named Player of the Season after the 2012-13 season but requested to be released from his contract.
He was never the easiest player to interview.
You always felt he was not comfortable and could not get away from the media quick enough. What a sad end to what promised to be a glittering career.