One of the most exciting talents to emerge from South Africa in recent years is Nhlakanipho Ntuli, the nineteen year old currently plying his trade in Netherlands at FC Twente. A product of the Orlando Pirates development system, ‘Nanana’ moved to the Netherlands the moment he turned eighteen, having signed a pre-contract a year earlier.
Name: Nhlakanipho ’Nanana’ Ntuli
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Club: FC Twente
Ntuli came through the Orlando Pirates system, under the guidance of of former Peruvian international Augusto Palacios, who described ‘Nanana’ as the “future of South African football” when he was just sixteen. Having agreed to join FC Twente when he was eighteen, Ntuli spent the year before joining officially training in both South Africa and Holland.
A creative playmaker, Ntuli’s key strengths are his vision, passing ability and dribbling skills. Ntuli’s ‘silky skills’ while playing for national age group teams won him fans across South Africa, with many comparing him to South African legends of past.
At 1.80 metres tall, and still growing, Ntuli is also a lot bigger than many of his South African compatriots, and uses his height to his advantage.
Ntuli’s first taste of ‘senior’ football came in the 2014/2015 season, playing for Twente II in the Dutch Eerste Divisie. He made 27 appearances during the season. Before that he caught the eye playing for South Africa’s U20 national team as he played a major role in the team winning the All Africa Games in 2012 and 2013 Cosafa U20 Championship, as well during the qualifiers for 2015 CAF U20 Championship.
Ntuli was a regular goalscorer for ‘Amajita’, as the young South Africans are known.
Having only joined FC Twente a year ago, when Steve McClaren was in charge, Ntuli’s short-term future remains with the Dutch club, but the South African midfielder has been linked with a number of clubs since he started making waves. In fact before Twente won the race, Ntuli spent some time as a teenager training at both Ajax Amsterdam and PSV Eindhoven.
He is also caught the eye of a number of other clubs when he captained the Orlando Pirates youth team at the Manchester United Premier Cup, where the South Africans lost in the final to Mexico’s Pachuco at Old Trafford a few years ago.
“I want to see myself in England one day. Premier League football is exciting and I want to be one of the South Africa players to have played in such a magnificent league. Any team in England will suit my style of play because almost every club there plays an attacking style of football,” Ntuli said in an interview with Tribal Football.
“Benni McCarthy has been giving me advice on how to improve my game and how to handle myself in Netherlands. The other player who I chat to is Steven Pienaar. I think I will learn a lot from him as he plays in the position I play in and he had a successful stay in the Netherlands, which made him to be the kind of a player he is today.”
Written by Rob Delport
Follow Rob on Twitter @FMSouthAfrica
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