Johannesburg – Al Ahly and Bafana Bafana superstar Percy Tau believes that the reason South African players are struggling to crack it in big European leagues are because they only move abroad late in their careers.
Tau, a former PSL Player of the Season, reckons that by that time, a player already has a lot of factors that urge him to come back home and play in the PSL.
“It is always better to go abroad early in your life. Our players must try and make sure that they go overseas at an early age.
That will help them adjust rather than going in their mid-twenties whereby you are older and you’re competing for places with 18-year-olds,” said former Downs marksman.
“Why do they come back to SA is because they have left very late in their careers and by then, some have already started having their own families and others have their own personal reasons.
“There’s so many things players go through when living abroad, you have parents that are ageing, and now there’s Covid-19, where you are not sure whether members of your family are going to be okay.”
Tau said life had been good since he moved to Cairo after he was brought by his former coach Pitso Mosimane.
He joined Al Ahly amid criticism that moving from the English Premiership with Brighton & Hove Albion was a downgrade for him “I respect those opinions.
I went for what is best for [me] and that topic is over now because we’re having some good results, we are on top of the log in Egypt.
“The team is doing well, life is okay. I think in my life I have always gone to different places and my adjustment will always be quicker.
I’ve been there for only four months and I still need some time to adjust.
“I spend time with my books and my family, live a simple normal life.
I don’t get to spend a lot of time with the other South Africans at Al Ahly because we live in different parts of Cairo and we are just here to work.
“We do not have time to be together because we also have so many games in a very short space of time.
“I have to prepare for training, I have to recover after matches, not enough time for free space.
“It’s a job, it’s not a holiday, it’s tough, people would be lying if they thought a life of a football player was soft and easy,” said Tau.
He said life in England, in the biggest league in the world, was the same but also good. But he did not make the most of it because it was about going to training, home, school and spending time with his family and he did not do much off the pitch.
“The 2022 World Cup qualifiers were very tough and emotional because we wanted to win all the matches.
It was a great experience for all the guys because this is a very young team. We feel we’ve done well but we can always be better.
The results balance the hard work that we have been putting with coach Hugo Broos.
“I am still 27 years and there’s still so much to achieve. I want to get better as a person and as a player and write my own story.
“I want to play at a Fifa World Cup and we have to work hard first.
The World Cup will sum up my career and it will be a nice way to reflect and say I’ve been there and played at a World Cup,” he said.
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