A couple of weeks ago, I received a call from Anele Ngcongca in the early hours of the morning.
We had a long chat – about half and hour and he was telling me he was on the verge of leaving Mamelodi Sundowns. “I may go to Maritzburg United, but AmaZulu also want me,” he told me.
He was confiding in me. He needed someone to talk to, probably because he wasn’t happy to leave Downs, but I realised in the end that he was actually happy. He was still happy because there were a few teams still interested in him. He was happy that he was going to continue to play the game.
This was still the same Anele Ngcongca I first spoke to over the phone in 2007. We go back a long way and I have great memories of how he treated me.
I was only in my second year as a Football Journalist and at the time, I was at Soccer Laduma.
Laduma kept a list of SA players abroad and I decided to keep in touch with those players. I can’t recall how I got in touch with the man, but I think it was through social platform Facebook and he, willingly, shared his Belgium contact.
He was with Genk at the time and we had our interview.
The trouble is there were no pictures of him available for publication. He sent me a few from his Facebook page, but soon reality hit home that it wasn’t good enough for publication.
For a few weeks I kept assuring him that the interview would be out though it was up to the Editor at no point did he feel I had wasted his time. Sometime later, the interview was published and later on, he got into the Bafana Bafana squad.
History will remember that he was part of Bafana Bafana’s FIFA 2010 World Cup squad. He liked saying, “Ta T, you see your interview got me into Bafana”. He meant that after the interview, the Bafana technical team became aware of him.
My last interview with him was in May, but we were still in touch.
Before he went down to Durban, I was meant to collect a jersey from him, but he was tied up. However, his love will remain in my heart.
I’ll remember Anele Ngcongca as a patient man. I’ll remember Anele Ngcongca who treated me like his blood brother. I’ll remember Anele Ngcongca who was a true professional. I’ll remember Anele Ngcongca who loved football as much as we all do.
Most of all, I’ll remember that he was a talented footballer, yet a humble human being.
May you remain on the winning side even in heaven. May your soul rest in peace, Tera.
By Tiyani wa ka Mabasa