The gracious Mike Ntombela and his role in the Percy Tau story

Last week we were honoured by Mr Mike Ntombela, a man who is a genuine legend on the pitch but his legacy which he is continuing to further build upon with his work behind the scenes of uncovering and polishing some of South Africa’s best talents through his sports management company and also giving back to the community.
As we discussed all matters of football from his humble beginnings of Senaone Gunners to playing for one of the big 3 of South African football with Mamelodi Sundowns, there were many great stories he shared and scoops but one that really stood out for me was towards the end of the interview in which he shared a story of how Percy Tau was moved from the youth team to the first team.

Percy Tau is a player who is now recognized as the best player in the PSL by his peers, media and fans, a player who was key to Mamelodi Sundowns winning the league last season by contributing 11 goals and 10 assists which has resulted in the player being heavily linked with Brighton and Hove in England.


So imagine our faces when when we were told that Percy Tau could have been promoted way earlier to the first team, we are talking like two to three years before he made his debut for the Mamelodi Sundowns outfit, we were absolutely gobsmacked at how far he could have reached permitting he kept the same quality and improved upon it more.

So to get to the story it’s important to understand that Mr Mike Ntombela was part of the technical team for Mamelodi Sundowns and upon starting that role he bore witness to the flashes of brilliance of Percy Tau who at that time was a youth player doing his matric, as Mr Mike Ntombela explained the then young lion was caught up in his studies and he was trying to figure out why he wasn’t already promoted, his studies were the stumbling block as he was told.

Mr Mike Ntombela then proceeded to have a meeting with Percy Tau’s mother and in that meeting he proceeded to apologize on behalf of the team as they didn’t spot her son’s talents earlier, as he told us Percy Tau should have been promoted at least 2-3 years earlier prior to his debut, thus a decision was made to stall his studies and rather focus on football.

The rest as they say is history as Percy Tau is now on the cusp of plying his trade in England and having finished his studies privately, the story for one makes one wonder had Percy Tau been recognised and promoted earlier how far would he be by now but also serves to show that education and sports shouldn’t replace the other but rather supplement each other, as Mr Mike Ntombela stated in his experience it keeps young players motivated rather than hindering them thus sports organization and schools need to work in conjunction with each other to better develop and nurture talent in our country.

Once more thank you to Mr Mike Ntombela for joining us on our weekly Friday football conversations show on 1912 online radio available on the tuluntulu app or via this link,, at 17:00 – 18:00 CAT.