Xulu arrived at Maritzburg ahead of the 2017/18 season looking to rebuild his career after having struggled for game-time at previous club Kaizer Chiefs, whom he had joined after a three year spell with Rostov in Russia.
And the 26-year-old KZN-born defender has not looked back, taking the chance given to him by coach Fadlu Davids with both hands as he became an integral member of a Team of Choice defence which had the second best record in the league last term.
He also scored some crucial league and cup goals for Maritzburg as United finished a best-ever fourth position and also made the Nedbank Cup final.
National team recognition then followed as Xulu, together with Siphesihle Ndlovu, Fortune Makaringe and Lebohang Maboe were called up to the Bafana side last week by coach Stuart Baxter, to do duty in the COSAFA Cup (which takes place in Polokwane).
Xulu is thrilled to be part of the national team setup again after a four year absence.
“My last game was under Gordon Igesund when we played against Brazil, and lost at home – it must be four years back (Bafana Bafana lost 5-0 at FNB Stadium in March 2014). Yes, I am excited to be back and I missed the national team,” he told SAFA.net.
“But then again it works hand in hand, if you do well for your club you will earn yourself a place in the national team. Which means I had to work hard at club level and now I am reaping the rewards.
“I was talking to my coach at my club and he was asking me how I was going to treat this camp, and I told him that me coming to this camp was just like pressing a reset button and I will treat it as my very first camp with the national team, so yes I am very happy to be back.”
Xulu admitted though that he never expected to be given the captain’s armband:
“It was a very huge surprise when the coach named me the captain. Coming back here is me saying to myself let me just learn new things from the other guys, let me reset my international career. It was me trying to refocus on my game, and the captaincy is not something I really expected.
“Personally, it has been a great year, I can actually label this as my best season ever. When one looks back two seasons ago things were not looking that great, me coming back and fighting for my position at Maritzburg United, earning a Bafana Bafana call-up and also being named captain of the squad – and I am hoping for a good tournament.”
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