Cape Town - Newly-appointed SAFA technical director Neil Tovey is "alive and well" after suffering a scary heart attack four months ago and ready to take on the arduous task of helping to revive the faltering fortunes of South African soccer.
"It was certainly a frightening ordeal," said the 53-year-old former Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs captain in a candid, revealing interview.
"But I've been given the all-clear as far as my health is concerned and am back playing squash, tennis and golf as though nothing had happened."
Tovey, famously remembered for leading Bafana to their only African Nations Cup triumph in 1996 and his emotional repartee after the final against Tunisia with late former president Nelson Mandela, revealed that a stent had been inserted into a blocked heart artery after he had collapsed on the squash court near his Durban home.
"But my overall fitness level helped me overcome the crisis," he added, "and it's helped me make a complete recovery right now."
And reviving South African soccer to the level it enjoyed in 1996 is now his prime objective - although he says he intends to continue as a soccer analyst and commentator with SuperSport, which he believes will provide him with a platform to get his ideas and plans over to a widespread audience.
"The position of technical director is a varied, complex undertaking," said Tovey, "but, in a nutshell, it's all about providing the groundwork for specialised development for our youngsters at an early juncture and turning them into sufficiently experienced Bafana and Banyana stars at a young age."
Tovey said he had been in discussion with SAFA for more than a year over the long over-due appointment of a technical director, but only recently felt it was opportune to take on the post.
As for the criticism from the South African Coaches Association over his appointment, Tovey said he remained unmoved and unconcerned.
"I did not appoint myself as the technical director and if they have any gripes it's between them and SAFA to sort out.
"I am confident of my ability to do the job after more than a decade of experience coaching Mamelodi Sundowns, AmaZulu, Hellenic and other PSL clubs and that is all that concerns me right now."
He dismissed the "mischievious suggestions" in sections of the media that there would be a conflict of interest with Bafana head coach Shakes Mashaba or that he planned to usurp Mashaba's position in the future or dictate to him.
"Actually I've always had a very good relationship with Shakes," said Tovey, "and still do. Naturally we will have to form a close association regarding policy. But he remains the Bafana coach and has the final say in that direction.
"As a former player and coach myself, I will continue to respect this," he added with a good deal of conviction.