Colchester United v Crawley Town, player interview: Nicke Kabamba’s journey from a car rental firm to professional football

PUBLISHED: 05:38 08 September 2017

Nicke Kabamba, who is looking to provide a lethal finishing touch for Colchester United, starting against Crawley tomorrow..

Nicke Kabamba, who is looking to provide a lethal finishing touch for Colchester United, starting against Crawley tomorrow..


Nicke Kabamba used to work at a car rental company, and he doesn’t want to go back to that life.

That’s why the 24-year-old striker wants to make his mark at Colchester United, during his loan stint from Portsmouth.

Kabamba was one of five U’s players to arrive on transfer deadline day at the end of last month, and was in the 18-man squad for last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Cambridge United.

He was only an unused substitute at the Abbey Stadium, which was obviously a cause of frustration, but he looks certain to play a part in tomorrow’s home game against Crawley Town.

And Kabamba wants to get among the goals quickly, to prove what he can do in the professional game, having spent most of his footballing career in non-league circles.

“It’s been a drastic change for me, but its been good,” explained Kabamba, following yesterday’s training session at Florence Park, Tiptree.

“I’m coming back to near where I live, because my house is not too far away. I hadn’t been settled at Portsmouth for too long before this opportunity arose.

“The move was definitely out of the blue.

“We spoke about a move a little bit, but then it seemed as though I would be involved at Portsmouth in the first team.

“However, I then had a good chat with the manager (Kenny Jackett) and he said it would be best for me to go out and get some minutes, get some experience under my belt, and get some goals.

“That’s what I’ve always wanted to do – I don’t just want to be sitting on the sidelines watching games,

“That was the case at Cambridge in the last game. There were a lot of good crosses into the box, and I think you just need that final touch to get those goals. And hopefully I might be able to provide that.

“I’ve scored goals throughout my career. It just comes down to having good habits and getting into good positions.

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“The stats look good at the club, with balls going into the box, so it’s good to be coming into the team and hopefully getting a few goals.

“It’s been a lifelong dream to be a professional footballer, training every day, literally waking up and going out to train, to try and better yourself.

“It’s a dream come true, and I’m living that dream.

“I know what it’s like to be doing a nine-to-five job, and you don’t want to be going back to doing that.

“I worked in a car rental company, and I definitely don’t want to be going back to that, so I need to knuckle down and score some goals and get my name out there, and being a force in the league,” added Kabamba.

Front-runner Kabamba signed for his parent club Portsmouth in January, but before that big break he was operating in non-league, as well as holding down his job at the car rental firm.

Having initially played for Hayes & Yeading Under-18s, he moved on to Uxbridge, Hayes and then Burnham in the Southern League, before finding his feet at Hampton & Richmond during the 2015-16 season.

Kabamba banged home 18 league goals that season, as Hampton clinched promotion from the Isthmian Premier to the National League South, and in all he bagged 33 goals in 70 league outings before his switch to Pompey.

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“I’ll be playing with better players now, but also playing against better defenders, so it’s the same sort of thing as non-league,” continued Kabamba.

“It was a no-brainer when I heard about the Colchester offer (loan to January), because I want to get some league games under my belt and I want to score goals.

“In the box is where my strength lies. Sometimes I play as a target man, bringing other players into the game, but in training today (yesterday) he (manager John McGreal) had me playing just behind. I think sometimes you’ve got to mix it up.

“Fitness wise, I was doing extra work myself before I turned professional, so I was already in that mind-set before I signed my first contract.

“Now I want to get into those chances to score goals – it’s all about confidence, and I’d love to be involved this weekend.

“I think before the Cambridge game, the team had about 30 crosses in the two previous games, so it’s all there and I’m sure we will gel.”

Kabamba could even go straight into the starting line-up tomorrow, against Harry Kewell’s Crawley, especially if McGreal chooses to operate with two up front. Recent training sessions suggest that could be the case.

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