Anele Ngcongca: A great talent on the field, a gentleman off it
JOHANNESBURG - Few players were as good as Anele Ngcongca, who sadly lost his life in a car accident yesterday. Not only was he a great talent on the field, he was a gentleman off it as well.
“He’s got so much experience. What a gentleman also, helping Thapelo (Morena) – you do this and mark like this. (He’s) looking after himself and it’s very difficult to get these right backs who are stable and make less mistakes. We are blessed to have Anele,” was the way former Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane described him.
Mosimane was right. South African football ternity was blessed to Ngcongca.
He made a name for himself in Belgium during his stint with Genk where he won multiple trophies and played in the Uefa Champions League. But there as well it was not
It wasn’t only on the pitch where Ngcongca made his mark. Instead the Gugulethu-born footballer took renowned superstar Kevin De Bruyne, who is now plying his trade at Manchester City, under his wing during their early days at the Belgian side.
Sad to hear former Genkie Anele is no longer with us. Being one of the most enthusiastic players I have ever met, I’ll always remember your smile and will carry your positive mindset with me. We’ll miss you deeply, my friend. My thoughts go out to your family. 🤍 https://t.co/DMbrVx3ONM— Thibaut Courtois (@thibautcourtois) November 23, 2020
That, however, was just the usual routine for Ngcongca. That he was voted as one of the players of the decade at the club – of course alongside De Bruyne, Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois, Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi, Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly and Lazio’s Sergej Milinkovic-Savic – was a no brainer.
His decision to heed the call and play in South Africa’s top division in 2016, joining Sundowns, was about writing his name in the history books of local football.
Anele Ngcongca, who was part of South Africa's 2010 #WorldCup squad and won over 50 caps for @BafanaBafana, has died at the age of just 33.— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 23, 2020
Our thoughts are with Anele's loved ones at this very sad time. pic.twitter.com/9KJmLdSIBf
With the Brazilians, Ngcongca won three Premiership titles and a host of trophies, which include the coveted Caf Champions League and Super Cup during his four-year stint with the Brazilians as they dom
inated domestic and continental football.
Ngcongca’s career was impressive. At Sundowns he was an established player in the right wing-back role, but many will remember him
for his sterling displays in a Bafana Bafana jersey, where he scooped 52 caps.
His experience was there for all to see. After being rumoured to be on his way back to Belgium at the end of last season to join second-tier side KSV Roeselare, Mosimane declared how he would love to keep Ngcongca at the club this season.
But a move to Egyptian giants Al Ahly saw Mosimane depart from his coaching position at Sundowns. And then Ngcongca was signed on loand by AmaZulu on from Friday before losing his life in KwaZulu-Natal in the early hours of yesterday morning.
A selfless man who is survived by his wife and daughter, Ngcongca, didn’t sweep anything under the carpet. While most footballers give rehearsed comments from PR training, Ngcongca told it like it was – good or bad.
In a chat at the start of lockdown, Ngcongca didn’t shy away from telling me that he felt illtreated at Sundowns after the club renewed his contract without his knowledge. But most importantly, he was thrilled with his time in Belgium.
But to take a leaf from Mosimane’s book, Ngcongca was a true gent. Thapelo Morena may have excelled in the right-back role since being converted to the role, but that has been largely due to the teachings of seasoned campaigners such as Ngcongca.
“Phumla Ngoxolo Dlomo, Madiba, Yem-Yem, Ngqolomsila, Sophitsho. Ugqatso oluhle ulifezile!”