Johannesburg - Former Bafana Bafana captain Neil Tovey is still on cloud nine, a week after being honoured by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The Safa technical director – who suffered a heart attack in 2016 – was one of a few sports personalities to be conferred with the Order of Ikhamanga, which recognises South African citizens who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism and sport.
The National Order is the highest award the country bestows on people who have contributed to the advancement of democracy and have made a positive impact on the lives of South Africans.
The former Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs captain was bestowed with the Order in Silver, together with Hashim Amla (cricket), Eric Risimati Baloyi (boxing), Elana Meyer (athletics) and John Smit (rugby).
“It doesn’t change me as a person but I feel very honoured,” said the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations-winning captain.
However, he, said he would not have been recognised had it not been for the role played by his former team-mates.
“I didn’t do it alone, many people played a role in our achievement. It was also for my contribution to football in general after 1996.”
He said it was “nice to be recognised for the work you do while you are still alive”.
“It happens to a select few and I am very fortunate to have been considered. Before the event, I didn’t really understand and know what it meant.
“It was only when I got there and saw the calibre of people chosen that I realised the magnitude of the event.”
He said the award meant the world to him and he would not swap it for anything.
“This is the highest honour for me because it does not happen often that you are recognised by your government. I have achieved success in football, but to receive this honour from the president is very hearty for me.”
He said the award would motivate him to work even harder to improve the standard of South African football.
The technical director said he was busy with provincial technical offices.
“It is a huge programme. We are done with the planning phase and now we are implementing the programme. It is part of Safa’s Vision 2022 and I am excited about this project.”