TOTTENHAM’S new signing Bongani Khumalo is determined to put right rumours that he is an impoverished African “with 14 siblings”.
The articulate 23-year-old, captain of South African Premier League champions Supersports United, was apparently referring to Spurs boss Harry Redknapp’s comments that he was “a good kid from a poor background.”
And Arsenal’s Emmanuel Eboue is one of 13 children, a fact which is often mentioned when referring to the Ivory Coast international.
But Khumalo, who will move to White Hart Lane in the January transfer window for £1.5m (R17m), said: "What? To say I'm from a poor background would be slightly unfair because I grew up in a middle-class family.
"I'm an only child. To say I have 14 siblings is a load of rubbish so I don't know where they got all that from.
"It's always been only me and I'll be coming to London on my own.
"My parents were academics. They've both passed away now but my dad was a lecturer who started the Swati African language department at the University of South Africa and my mother was a teacher.”
Khumalo, who confirmed he will be making two visits to London before his big move in January, added: "I was studying for a degree at Pretoria University, It's been on hold. I should be going back now actually.
"If I can take a couple of modules to keep it going then I'll be happy but it has been on hold for way too long and I need to get back to it."
Khumalo’s agent Glyn Binkin insisted Khumalo will not be farmed out on loan like so many foreign signings at Premier League clubs in the modern era. With fellow centre-backs Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King both suffering from long-term knee problems, Binkin said: "He's going to Tottenham to get into the first team. He is not going there with a view of going out on loan.
“Bongani's first priority is to try and win a place in the Spurs side and I think he is good enough to do that. For Harry Redknapp, he is a bit of an unknown quantity at the moment and we're talking about top-class European football here. He realises there are challenges ahead but Bongani has never been one to duck out of challenges."
And on the thorny subject of a work permit, Binkin added: “Since the Confederations Cup in 2009, he has played in every single competitive match apart from one (against Niger earlier this year) where he was injured so I think it will be fine. Spurs will look after the work permit when the time is right but we are very confident he will attain it. He's fulfilled the criteria over recent times so both parties expect no hitches."
Binkin added: "That should make it easier because obviously the weather is very cold that time of the year and it will only help him get used to the new surroundings. But Bongani's mentality is very good and I'm sure he will be able to cope."