Renowned football agent Mike Makaab gives a glimpse into his life during the crazy transfer window

Renowned football agent Mike Makaab on the football transfer window. Supplied image.

Renowned football agent Mike Makaab on the football transfer window. Supplied image.

Published Jul 22, 2023


Johannesburg - What does it take to cut it as a top football agent in a highly competitive environment?

There isn't a better person to ask than renowned South African football agent Mike Makaab.

Makaab, who runs ProSport International, is considered the leading agent on the continent, and who has signed some of the biggest names in football, says it's all about hard work and perseverance.

“It takes an incredible amount of hard work, hours and perseverance, determination, grit and an insatiable desire to succeed in an industry which I humbly say, I pioneered in South Africa, as the first licensed FIFA agent,” Makaab told the Saturday Star.

With the football transfer window in full swing, and with Makaab having just been granted a new FIFA agent’s licence, we caught up with the pioneer to chat about his career and all things football.

Renowned football agent Mike Makaab on the football transfer window. Supplied image.

How delighted are you to have gotten your new FIFA agent’s licence?

I was first licensed as a FIFA football agent in 2001, up until the licensing system was abolished in favour of the new intermediary system in 2015. I am happy that the FIFA licensing system has been reintroduced, as I feel it is important to have some form of regulation in any industry where one is guiding the career of another person.

What does this mean for your career now?

I am legally entitled to operate as a football agent, when the new legislation comes into force on 1 October this year.

You’ve been a football agent and the CEO of Prosport International for several years. What has life been like as an agent?

It has been an incredible journey with many highs and lows, but the immense satisfaction of being able to contribute meaningfully and purposefully to the progress of another individual has made it all worthwhile. That is why I do what I do.

Renowned football agent Mike Makaab on the football transfer window. Supplied image.

As an agent and CEO what are you responsible for?

I have the overall responsibility of running Prosport International, including the strategic path of the organisation. As a football agent, my role is primarily to guide the careers of our footballers, this with the help of those who work for the company, without whom none of our longevity and success in this challenging industry would be possible.

Tell us about some of your biggest clients?

All of our clients are of equal importance to us. My first client and longest-standing footballer, Siyabonga Nomvethe, has been with me for the past two decades, and was also the first footballer we placed in Europe, at Udinese in the Serie A in Italy.

There have been many more, too many to mention, but we have been privileged to see many of them ply their trade successfully in Europe, including in the big five leagues in England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France. We have been fortunate in that the service that we have consistently provided has held us in good stead, for “word-of-mouth” to be the main manner in which we have been able to sign potentially top-class footballers.

What are some of the challenges you face?

There are many in an industry which is not particularly known for its loyalty, but by far the biggest challenge is to manage the expectations of our clients, some of which are far from reality. It is here that we have to remain true to our ideals, principles and ethics, irrespective of the potential outcome of the decisions we take.

What is a day in your life like?

I normally wake up at around 5am, and spend the first few hours of my day giving thanks to God, meditating and training, in preparation for the new challenges that the day is bound to throw at me in this field of football. That said, the gift of life is what drives me, fuelled by my passion for football and sport in general. I also have the enjoyment of co-hosting a sports radio show on Gagasi FM every Monday and Friday at 6pm. On those days, I work close to 14 hours.

We are now in the off season but the transfer window is in full swing. Would you say this is your busiest time?

I am busy all year round, but it definitely reaches a crescendo during the transfer windows. Imagine the craziest time in your life and multiply that exponentially. Hopefully good crazy more than not.

How rewarding has your journey been so far?

It has been an incredible journey and one which I feel blessed to have undertaken thus far. There is no doubting that it has been a continuous roller-coaster ride, but as my son, Michael, reminds me (he runs our Global Football division) that if you go through life believing that the end result of finding resolution to a problem is what makes it all worthwhile, then you will miss out on the joy of Being, most importantly in the Now.

For those who aspire to follow in your footsteps what advice would you give them?

Be prepared for a “wild ride” and enjoy every hurdle you have to jump, each obstacle you have to navigate and all the numerous problems you are going to have to attempt to solve, otherwise look for another vocation. It is a remarkably invigorating and rewarding career for those who are prepared to stand tall in the face of adversity, do tough when the going gets tough, but most importantly never waiver from your ideals, irrespective of the consequences – to live in truth is to live in peace.

Which football agents do you take inspiration from?

There are many that I have taken inspiration from, but I have tried to be my authentic self in carving out a career in an industry I truly love.

Have you always been determined to work in the football industry?

Yes. I was never good enough to make it to play professionally, but was encouraged to pursue a career in coaching by a great friend and mentor, the late Clive Barker. After a few years, Manning Rangers gave me my first break in the top flight as their head coach and then Dr Irvin Khoza changed my life in 1994 by appointing me as head coach of Orlando Pirates. After almost two successful years with the Buccaneers I finished that chapter of my life as technical advisor to the Bafana team that won AFCON 1996 and head coach of Amazulu. I then embarked on my life as a football agent in May 1998, some 25 years ago.

Where do you see yourself in say five years’ time?

God willing, still doing what I am doing now, in a different role, and hopefully guiding and assisting the younger, aspiring agents who want to carve a niche for themselves in this beautiful game.