Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Phakamani Mahlambi says he is eager to get back to his old self and henceforth emulate the likes of Percy Tau.
Mahlambi was once a rising a star in South African football when he first burst onto the scene with Bidvest Wits and went onto winning the Young Player of the Season award in 2015/16.
The 22-year-old then saw his career take flight with a move to Egyptian giants Al Ahly, but an injury disrupted his trajectory and soon thereafter he returned to the PSL, where he has not quite reached the potential many saw in him.
But the rise of the likes of Tau and other South Africans plying their trade in Europe is motivating him to continue working hard as he targets getting back on track.
“I think it’s a good thing for everyone in South Africa – our football is growing with the guys that have already gone overseas,” said Mahlambi.
“It’s motivating for us that are still here to work even harder, looking at the likes of Percy Tau playing in the UEFA Champions League, it’s every player’s dream to play there.
“But right now, I’m just focussed on getting back to the Phakamani that used to play for Wits before I got injured, and I believe everything else will follow.”
Asked what the difference is between the current Mahlambi and the teenager that had many tongues wagging at his performances, the lanky attacker explained: “There’s a lot of difference.
“Playing at that stage at the age that I was, I was just playing football to enjoy but now it’s no longer the same. There’s a lot of things coming up, and there are so many more responsibilities.
“When I was playing at Wits, there wasn’t too much information on, ‘Phakamani, do this’ or ‘Phakamani, do that’, because I used to play as a kid just to enjoy myself.
“But now the football has changed, a lot has changed, and we also need to grow and adapt as footballers. I feel like, with the coach talking to me, I just need to improve on the tactics and hopefully then I’ll get my chance to play.”