HAILED as South Africa's own David Beckham, Moroka Swallows striker Ryan Botha, 29, has been kicking a ball since he was two.
Passionate about the game, Botha committed himself to the profession from this early age.
"Being a professional football player is a gifted life. It may look glamorous, but it is a life full of sacrifice and hard work," says Botha.
"It is also a short career. If you are lucky you will play professionally for 10 to 15 years.
"You have to be passionate about it because it takes a lot of sacrifice - this includes eating correctly and training for endless hours."
Botha says he even trains during the off-season because he has to maintain a level of fitness.
Talking about the future after his last football pay-cheque, Botha says he wants to get involved in coaching and scouting young soccer talent. He also wants to start soccer development clinics.
"Using the contacts I have built up, I want to assist aspiring youngsters to go overseas. It is a niche market and sadly that is where South African development falls away."
Botha is also interested in television sports presenting. "I want to be like Robert Marawa who is an inspiration.
"I want to talk about the game that I love so much and perhaps dabble with a bit of acting. I am very comfortable in front of a camera."
Sorry ladies, Botha is engaged to Natasha Shannon and they are expecting their first baby in March 2010.
l For more on Botha and his views about his teammates, visit www.sowetan.co.za.