Johannesburg - Percy Tau is an emotional player. He used to cry a lot, but now he smiles a lot. All because of the love of football. The 21-year-old Mamelodi Sundowns sensation is working on his emotions and trying to balance them.
“When you are good at something you love and you feel it is not happening, you can’t be happy about it,” Tau said.
“I used to go through a lot of emotions [as a result of] football, and they affected everything I did outside of football. But I’m getting there now.”
Images of Tau, seemingly lost in thought and not celebrating like his fellow players after the CAF Champions League final last Sunday, went viral after the match. While the rest of the players sang and danced, he seemed oblivious to what was happening around him.
“I was in my own zone. I was trying to think about everything that was happening at that moment, and I could not get the correct emotions,” he said.
“I was caught up in a lot of emotions and didn’t know whether to jump up and down or not.”
On coming back to his senses and out of slumberland, Tau said, he realised the magnitude of his achievement.
“It was a special moment for me to be part of history. I was happy to see other big players with the same gold medal as me. It is special for everybody who is part of Sundowns as it will be part of our CVs.”
Tau is the only player in the team who came up through the team’s development football ranks. But he admits that it was not easy.
A loan move away to Witbank Spurs was a turning point for him as he proved himself in the National First Division and returned more determined to win his place in the team.
“I needed game time, and when I got it I grabbed it. The team has given me responsibilities and has accommodated my game.
“I knew certain things were [beyond] my control and I couldn’t [impose] myself on the team. I needed to raise my hand [higher] and prove I could do it, and so far so good.”
Given another chance to celebrate his Champions League achievement, he said, he would have had more pictures taken of him carrying the trophy, and he would have asked his mum to pose next to him.
His mum had not liked the idea of him travelling to Egypt due to reports of death threats to Downs’ players.
“I only called her when I was at the airport and assured her that nothing was going to happen to us,” Tau said.
“I told her these were just mind games. She cried a lot, but now she will be smiling when I give her the medal.”
Having come up the ranks through the academy, he wants to inspire other youngsters not to lose hope. As a result, he said, he often went to their residence to motivate them.
“I talk to a lot of guys about football and schoolwork, and I assure them that they, too, can make it. I played with them in the MultiChoice Diski Challenge, and it is possible for them to get where I am today. If only they could work hard.”
He does not talk much about school, except to say it is not easy to balance books and football.
“I am studying and that’s all I can say. I’m in my second year and things are getting hectic as games come thick and fast.
“I am on my own and I am trying to [strike a] balance. As footballers, we have enough time to study, but we don’t use it effectively.
“Right now, I have my books with me because I want to be somebody in life.” (The interview happened in Cairo). He said he paid his tuition fees from his own pocket because he could afford to, and that motivated him to work even harder.
“School is my priority. I don’t want to fail. The motivation must come from [within]. Whenever my mum calls, she asks about school because she worries more about my schoolwork than football.”
Tau wants to earn more medals and is eyeing the Fifa Club World Cup in Japan.
“You always dream about such moments as the Club World Cup, the World Cup and others as a youngster. It is always good for a player to win as it [makes for] a good story to tell after football.”
Regarding plans for the next five years, he said: “God is behind everything.”