South African football journalist Wright Mbongo chats with South African superkid Nhlakanipho Ntuli about his dream move to Ajax and the support he has from some of the country's biggest names.
On loan from FC Twente, Orlando Pirates attacking midfielder Nhlakanipho Ntuli is fast emerging as the future of South African football.
FC Twente’s future star midfielder has experienced what many other local pros haven’t - and he is still a teenager. Currently with South Africa giants Orlando Pirates, he’ll make his move to FC Twente when he turns eighteen early next year.
The wonder-kid, who developed as a player through the junior ranks of Orlando Pirates, believes that he has what it takes to make a big impact in Europe.
“My time in Netherlands taught me a lot of things and made me improve as a player as European football is different to South African football. If you are to succeed in Europe you must be fast with ball and read the game the fastest way you can and that’s what I am good at.”
Nhlakanipho Ntuli admits he has a long-term desire to play for one of the biggest clubs in England as he believes that the Premier League is the one competition in the world every player wishes to play in.
“I want to see myself in England one day,” he said, while considering the fact that Eredivisie South African born players in Benni McCarthy, who made a big money move from FC Porto to Blackburn Rovers in 2006 in his wonder days, and Steven Pienaar who played for Tottenham Hotspur before making his move back to Merseyside Everton, both tread a similar path.
“Premier League football is exciting and I want to be one of the South Africa players to have played in such a magnificent league. Any team in England will suit my style of play because almost every club there plays an attacking style of football,” said the right-footed youngster.
While he dreams of England being his destination at some point of his career, the talented midfielder has captained Orlando Pirates in the Manchester United Premier Cup where the South Africa side lost in the final to Mexican’s Pachuca.
“Playing at Old Trafford was a dream come true as it is one of the best stadiums in the world.”
Nhlakanipho Ntuli will become the second player to play for FC Twente after now Kaizer Chiefs striker Bernard Parker had a stint with the Dutch giants. The teenager says he has received advice from one former star player well known to many.
“Benni McCarthy has been giving me advice on how to improve my game and how to handle myself in Netherlands. The other player who I chat to is Steven Pienaar. I think I will learn a lot from him as he plays in the position I play in and he had a successful stay in the Netherlands, which made him to be the kind of a player he is today.”
The influential midfielder, who was rumoured to be handed the famous number ten jersey by Orlando Pirates, says he was happy to receive some positive words from English manager Steve McClaren, who was still with Twente during his initial trials.
“He is a very good coach who always wanted me to improve as a player and he was happy with what he saw from me.”
And on the No10 shirt, the youngster concluded. “About Orlando Pirates giving me the number ten jersey, it surprised me because I only heard people talking about it, but it also gave me confidence because it shows there is something I am doing right.
“The number 10 jerseys are only worn by excellent players.”
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