POLOKWANE – A Senegalese journalist who was in the country this week to watch his native country clash with Bafana Bafana at the Peter Mokaba Stadium last night only viewed one player as a threat – Percy Tau.
It simply means we shouldn’t underestimate the prestige that comes with continental football, the Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder having been instrumental in helping the Brazilians claim their first ever CAF Champions League title a little over a year ago when they beat Zamalek over two legs.
Tau’s form there has earned him a nomination in the category of the best African-based Player of the Year, where winners will be announced in Accra, Ghana in January.
For now, he looks forward to another top honour as one of the contenders for the SA Sports Star of the Year award on Sunday night. Although he will not be able to attend as Bafana fly out to Dakar for the return leg of their World Cup qualifier against Senegal, Tau is hopeful.
“I think it’s great to be recognised,” he said this week.
“I am very honoured and I am proud. I always say it is a reflection of how well we have done at Sundowns and the national team. The CAF nominee is also big news for me. It’s another honour for me to be there. Another positive reflection of South African football.”
Tau’s rivals for the Sports Stars of the Year accolade have also done incredibly well in their respective codes.
Luvuyo Manyonga, Wayde van Niekerk and Caster Semenya were all gold medal winners at this year’s Athletics World Championships in London, while Bongani Tete is a boxing bantamweight champion.
“It’s good to see my name among stars,” said Tau.
“I don’t know if this is my best season yet. It’s just a season of progress, where I am seeing results. I am grateful to be nominated, but I would have loved to win the Champions League again (Sundowns were not able to defend their title this year after their elimination in the quarter-final phase).
“I can add this to the list of things that a footballer has achieved.”
Tau, 23, has also been humility personified and was reluctant to give a message to inspire those who one day want to be like him, as the question was posed.
“I have a long way before I can give messages,” he said with a smile.
“What I can say now is to listen to your parents. The parents shape you, and give you a certain character that is needed. I feel you also have to respect the game because you will get it back.
“It is always good to work with someone who respects you. Oh, and education is also extremely important.”