"Follow your dreams" says World Cup captain

(l-r) Jason Roberts and Aaron Mokoena (right)

South Africa's World Cup captain Aaron Mokoena says that young people should "follow their dreams" of becoming a footballer, but warns them not to do so at the expense of their education.

Mokoena fulfilled a childhood ambition when he became the youngest ever player to represent his national side - a record he still holds - and he told Club Website that other youngsters can do the same.

"Follow your dream, work hard, but don’t forget education. Representing my country was always something that I wanted to do. I looked upon players in the national team and always wanted to see myself being there, playing for Bafana Bafana.

"Obviously when you’re young, you can dream of playing football but you never know if it will happen, so my advice is don’t forget education. It goes hand in hand."

"It’s possible to be a professional footballer, [but also] it’s possible to be an accountant. It’s possible to be in media. It’s not about football only."

The Portsmouth midfielder, who holds a record 104 caps for Bafana Bafana, experienced a World Cup on home soil this summer - something he is proud to have been part of and an experience that he hopes England will have themselves in 2018.

"The World Cup played a big role in changing the shape of South Africa. I’m very proud to be a part of that history. I’m proud to be a South African. People know what South Africa is all about now."

"Because we have been there I know that feeling and I know kids in England, this is what they deserve. Young people want to be able to rub shoulders with their favourite players and that would be an opportunity for them to do that.

"Who knows, some of them will be participating in that World Cup. It’s an opportunity for everyone in the UK and the legacy that I think it's going to leave will be amazing."

The Black List AwardsMokoena was speaking at the Black List Awards, which took place at Wembley Stadium last night.

The 50-strong list recognises the contribution of the black community away from the field of play in the fields of community, media, administration, commercial and coaching & management.

Winners included England captain Rio Ferdinand, who picked up the Commercial Award for his online magazine 5 and the the Rio Ferdinand Live the Dream Foundation.

The evening also featured a moving tribute to the first black manager in the Football League, Keith Alexander, who died this year.

In a tribute to the former Lincoln City and Macclesfield Town boss, the Black List will rename the Coaching & Management award to the Keith Alexander Award from next year onwards.

Dan Pope, Club Website editor

The Black List 2010 (award winners in bold)

Community Award – Danny Wallace (National Association of Disabled Supporters)
Howard Gayle, Jason Roberts MBE, Trevor Hutton, Sol Campbell, Dr Colin King, Paul Canoville, Clasford Sterling MBE, Johnson Hippolyte, Gavin Rose, Patti Boulaye, Lincoln Moses, Trevor Bailey, Rachel Yankey, Les Fevrier and Mary Phillip.

Media Award – Darren Lewis (Daily Mirror & Sky Sports News)
Stan Collymore, Chris Kamara, Sean Fletcher, Keme Nzerem, Greg Gobere, Mike Wedderburn, Damian Johnson, Andrew Cole, Rodney Hinds, Garth Crooks, Ian Wright, Andy Ansah, Mark Bright, Hepburn Harrison-Graham

Administration Award – Paul Elliot (Kick It Out & England 2018 Bid Team)
Simone Pound, Bobby Barnes, Lord Ouseley, Paul Davis

Commercial Award – Rio Ferdinand (5 magazine and Live the Dream Foundation)
Chris Nathaniel, Sky Andrews, Pete Smith, Tony Finnigan

Coaching & Management – Chris Hughton (Newcastle United manager)
Eddie Newton, Hope Powell CBE, Chris Powell, Terry Connor, Les Ferdinand, Alex Dyer, Chris Ramsey, Noel Blake

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