On Thursday night South Africa was buzzing when most of the fans saw one of their own on the team sheet of one of England’s most exciting teams Leicester City.
Under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers, 21-year-old midfielder Khanya Leshabela made the bench as Leicester City hosted Portuguese side SC Braga in the UEFA Europa League, but the Soshanguve-born youngster did not make it off the bench.
Leshabela has been steadily going through the ranks of the former English Champions since 2013 and established himself as one of the club’s most promising academy players in the past three seasons.
A host of the club’s B team players have been sent out on loan to clubs in the English Championship and League One to continue their development, but manager Rodgers specifically asked the South African to remain at the club as he has bigger plans for him in the first team.
Leicester City is known for producing top talents from their academy with players like Caglar Soyucu, Ben Childwell, Harvey Barnes and many other current first team players having come through their development system. Last night another academy graduate Luke Thomas played the entire 90 minutes on the left full back role and he fitted right into the set up.
Leshabela is one of the young players expected to play a part for Leicester this season as they focus on the domestic and continental competitions.
Speaking to this publication after the game Leshabela feels he is almost there. “It’s insane that I was called up to the first team on such a big European night. I’ve been working very hard and decided to stay at the club instead of going out on loan. It’s almost time for me to step up now I know what is expected of me, I am ready for my chance,” Leshabela told FARPost.
On Sunday the ‘Foxes’ travel to Wolves in the English Premier League and it remains to be seen if the midfielder will be included in the match day squad, but Thursday’s inclusion was a big confidence booster for the South African youth international.
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By Prince Sobayeni