|Date of Birth: |
|Place of birth:|
|2019 (on loan)|
Bognor Regis Town FC
Haji, can you tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m Haji Mnoga, I was born in Portsmouth and grew up in Portsmouth in an area called Somerstown. I’ve been playing football since I was about 3 that’s when I first kicked a ball and loved it always. I got football from my dad and used to play with him and my older brothers. I’ve played for Portsmouth since the development centre around 6/7 so I’ve ultimately been at Portsmouth FC for 11/12 years. I’ve just progressed through the ranks and recently got a lot more recognition in the first team.
What type of defender is are you ? Are you quick? Tall? A good passer?
I would say I’m quite old fashioned because I love a big tackle. I’m very aggressive and I work really hard. Put 110% into everything and put my body on the line. I’m quite composed on the ball, and I have a lot of physicality on my side. I think it’s a mixture of tenacity and actual physicality. I take pride in my strength and speed. I love running with the ball and I would say I’m quite good at it. I played Centre Back in my youth career and loved stepping out with the ball. I’m around 6’1 but I’m good at heading and using my body well.
How do you prepare for an (important) competition? (music, rituals, etc.)
A lot of my matches just feel quite normal now, so I don’t really get nervous anymore. I usually listen to my music, I like UK rap especially the likes of Giggs, Dutchavelli cause their music is the style of how I play. I wear low socks because it’s just something I got into and I always wear tape on my wrists that’s my preparation. I also pray before my game, because I am a Muslim. That’s my main preparation I just take the game as any other game and look forward.
How did you get into the youth of Portsmouth FC ? And who helped you the most?
As mentioned previous I’ve been at Portsmouth FC for the majority of my life. Starting in the development centre at a young age training once twice a week whilst playing for my local team Meon Milton. It then just progressed to me being signed with them and me progressing through the ranks. It hasn’t been an easy journey but I wouldn’t be where I am now without a little bit of adversity.
Haji, you made your professional debut on 9 October 2018, in a 1–0 EFL Trophy away win against Crawley Town FC. What can you remember about your first team debut with Crawley Town ?
I remember that I did played quite well and imposed myself quite well. I enjoyed the game and kept a clean sheet, I made some big tackles, drove out with the ball well and was defensively sound. There was a good amount of Pompey fans there so it was good. My mum, dad, brother and grandad was all there which was nice.
At the age of 16 years, five months and 24 days, you became the second-youngest player to debut for the club in their post-war history. How important was that moment for you ?
I grew up in Portsmouth and have lived here my whole life, as well as playing for them since so young so it’s a moment that I had dreamed on since I was young. Making my debut for my hometown club, it was a very special moment for me. Being the second youngest player as well was amazing, I never expected.
In 2019, you was loaned out to Bognor Regis Town FC. How did you experience these period?
I went on loan at Bognor Regis and it only happened to be for one game, because I was needed back at my club. However, I took a lot from the game. It was a good experience, being with a different group of people, at a different level and most importantly amongst me. It was a good experience overall.
Haji, you made your England U17 debut on 10 February 2019, in a 4-1 friendly win against Hungary U17. What are your ambitions at international level?
Playing for England was a surreal moment for me. It was very special for me and again I never expected it, but it was a moment that did boost my confidence further. I haven’t received a call up since but that’s motivation to get called up. I was born in England and so was my mum, however my dad was born in Tanzania. So it is also my dream to represent Tanzania at youth level too. I haven’t decided which nationality to potentially represent at senior level and I’ve got plenty of time. But it’s in my goals to represent both.
What are your personal goals for the rest of this season?
This season I’ve been fortunate enough to make my League 1 and FA Cup debut, coming on off the bench. The goal for me is to become starting right back and I feel I’m in the process of that currently. So in the meantime getting my first start, in the league and cup games would be great. Just playing as much football as I possibly can would be great.
And what is your ultimate dream in your football career ?
My ultimate goal in football would be to play in the premier league and play football internationally. It would amazing if I could go there with Portsmouth because it’s my hometown club and I’ve played for them for practically my entire life. Playing international football, I’d love to play in the World Cup.