Johannesburg - SuperSport United captain Bongani Khumalo is set for stardom when he joins crack English Premiership club Tottenham Hotspur next month.
That was the endorsement for the 23-year-old Bafana Bafana central defender by Lucas Radebe, one of the legends of the local game.
Radebe joined Leeds, then one of the top sides in England, from Kaizer Chiefs in 1994 and became one of the most popular and most loved players at Eland Road, ending up as captain of the Yorkshire side.
He was part of the Bafana side that won the 1996 African Nations Cup and went on to captain his country at the 1998 and 2002 World Cup finals.
Khumalo, who is the captain of PSL champions SuperSport United, joins Spurs on a R17 million transfer. Like Radebe, Khumalo is a top class central defender.
"I have watched Khumalo and he will make the grade at Spurs. He will be a future Bafana captain. I wish him well at Spurs where he will be a tremendous ambassador for South Africa," said Radebe.
He was speaking after FNB announced a R40m sponsorship for soccer development on Thursday.
Radebe said the sponsorship had ushered in a new era for local soccer at grassroots level.
"I am very excited about this development. It has been long overdue that development was addressed. The problem has been the lack of structures. Now that can be sorted out."
Radebe is a patron of the three-year FNB legacy programme under which the under-17 boys' and girls' sides will get R9m each over the next three years to develop players to eventually play for Bafana.
An amount of R15 million has already been spent building five artificial turfs and the remainder will go to a grassroots programme.
Radebe urged former players to get involved in the programme.
"I wanted to give back the knowledge and experience I picked up in my playing career. It is important for these legends of the past to stay involved as role models for the youth. The youngsters look up to them," he said.
Radebe said players like former Bafana stars Mark Fish and Phil "Chippa" Masinga were keen to be involved in developing new stars for the national teams.
"It is amazing that former players are overlooked [by the SA Football Association].
"They should be used as ambassadors or coaches. They have a lot to contribute and it would be sad if the experience they have was wasted."
He believed the legacy programme would take five years to bear fruit.
"I believe we are on the right track at last. I support this initiative whole-heartedly."