Playing football for a mining team and later on finding yourself working in the mines at a young age, he could easily have thrown in the towel. But to the Bekkersdal-born player, giving up on his dreams was never an option.
“Never did I ever think about quitting football, even when it seemed like nothing positive was happening during those moments. My love for the game was way too strong and I knew that one day I would be okay,” said Ekstein.
“I used to work at a mine called Kloof, on the West Rand. I used to wake up early in the morning for work and later on during the day prepare for training. It was quite nice playing for the mine team, because when I started playing there, they were paying me after every game. And later on they offered me a job and I worked there for a year.”
It was during that year (2013), when things started falling into place for Ekstein. He was given an opportunity to try his luck with the Chiefs reserves after impressing the Amakhosi technical team in a practice match.
“It is a blessing to be playing for a team I grew up supporting. I love the team very much and I am happy to be part of this squad.”
Since making his debut for Amakhosi, the 24-year-old has become the darling of the Chiefs supporters, something he says makes him want to work extra hard whenever he has a chance.
“I have to make sure I am at my level best every time I get a chance to play. And the fact the fans love me is motivation to deliver and make them happy.”
Having already won two trophies with the side in his first season, there is a chance for the talented midfielder to help the team get their first silverware this season when they meet Mamelodi Sundowns in the final of the Telkom Knockout at Moses Mabhida on December 16.
“I would dearly love to see myself being in the starting 11 on the day of the match, but obviously that will depend on the coach. I am ready for the game – so is everyone else in the team.
“This will be one of the biggest games of my life.”