JOHANNESBURG – Toni Silva is unfazed by the expectation for him to deliver and ensure that Mamelodi Sundowns survive life after Percy Tau and Khama Billiat.
The versatile forward, who can play on either flank and as a centre-forward, arrived at Sundowns with a lot of fanfare.
He has to deliver from the get-go as one of the players who have to fill the void left by Tau and Billiat.
“That’s not pressure, that’s the reality. People will have high expectations, and I am confident I will deliver,” Silva said.
Silva has been all over Europe, from Portugal to England, Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece. But the Guinea-Bissau forward struggled to find a home, hopping from one club to the next.
“I had trouble with most of the clubs I was at because of agents,” Silva said. “Agents have a lot of influence in the game. I don’t like agents. I don’t mind dealing with agents, but I don’t like to have a contract with an agent.
“When you have a contract with an agent, it’s too difficult for you. Sometimes you get the right agents, the ones who have power and connections.
“But then there are agents who don’t have power or connections for a player to move around. It’s crazy what I have gone through.
“Since Greece, I decided to go without an agent. If you’re an agent and want to make a deal with me, sure we can do it. You get your cut, I get mine, and then we can go our separate ways. I don’t want to have a contract with an agent now.”
The subject of agents gets the 24-year-old animated. “If I have a contract with you, be honest with me,” Silva said.
“If you make a deal with me, of course you know how much I am making. So why then do you have to hide how much you are making from that deal?
“When you work with someone, you must be honest with them. I don’t mind you taking $2 million. You can take anything that you want, but be honest with me because you know how much I am making.
“I want everything clear. That’s why I am now my own agent.”
Raheem Sterling: "I remember being coached at Liverpool and there was another kid called Toni Silva and they said ‘you know, instead of blasting the ball and it goes in, do like Toni does, pass it around the keeper’."
“That kind of put me in doubt & that’s where it all started.” pic.twitter.com/7YiBgwRTNh
The agent-less Silva arrived at Sundowns from Greece as a free agent. The Brazilians’ coach Pitso Mosimane had been scouting him for two years.
“I came here to visit first, because the coach is a good guy,” Silva said. “He asked me to come here with my family and see the country first, to see whether I like it or not.
“I couldn’t come with my family because my wife had just given birth, and it was hard to get them the needed documents. I came alone.
“I stayed for two weeks and even trained with the team too to get a taste of what’s in store. I liked the city. I watched their game and I liked what I saw. I decided to sign.”
The man he is replacing, Tau, also signed yesterday, penning a four-year contract with English side Brighton & Hove Albion, though he will be loaned out in Europe due to complications around his work permit.
“He will succeed there if he continues working hard like he has been doing,” Silva said. “He has a good head and he is talented. He will be successful if he also has a good agent who can help him there every step of the way.
“I didn’t have that when I was in Liverpool. I didn’t have an agent who would guide me on how to handle my business.
“Tau is a good player. He has talent. I wish him all the best.”