thumbnail Hello,

The 18-year-old has established himself as a first choice full-back at Peterborough United and is now set for what looks to be a promising career

Bafana Bafana fans always fear that there is no real talent in the ranks of young players. With a supposed sub-standard youth development system in South Africa, the up-and-coming stars of tomorrow are few and far between.

South African youngsters often display talent at an early age. However due to a lack of facilities such as player development centres, their potential and future as professional footballers often dissipates.

This loss of talent is a cause for concern. Young South Africans love the game, play it every day of their lives and live for the game. Often players do not seize their opportunities or fall into the trap of a lack of involvement.

Enter Kgosi Ntlhe, a South African-born but British-based player. The youngster is making huge strides playing for Peterborough United under the tutelage of Sir Alex Ferguson’s son, Darren Ferguson. 

A full-back by trade Ntlhe has pace, crossing ability and strong defensive capabilities. He should be seen as an inspirational character for the South African youth, a player who has worked hard and embraced his talent.

When Ntlhe moved to England eight years ago, he was only eleven. Born in Pretoria, Nthle made the pilgrimage to Great Britain with his mother in 2004.

The island which has created so many football legends was the perfect place for the youngster to make a name for himself and have his skills noticed.      

When playing for small club side Southside United in Milton Keynes, the player was noticed by former professional footballer Edward Stein at the age of thirteen. Stein is now Ntlhe’s agent.

Peterborough offered the left-back a two-year apprenticeship at the tender age of fifteen in 2009. His game was fine-tuned and developed.     

The Championship side loaned Nthle out to Evo-Stik Southern Premier side St Albans City in 2011 for one month, looking to let the player gain a bit more professional experience before making his full debut for the club.

Ntlhe did not have to wait long for his debut, on April the 21st 2012 he played in a 2 – 2 draw against Watford, his status as a professional footballer was there for all to see. He is the youngest professional to ever play for Peterborough United.

This season Ntlhe has started all six games for Peterborough, impressing pundits, coaches and his teammates with his performances. He has defied his lack of experience, showing confidence and wisdom beyond his age.

He was recently added to Gordon Igesund’s Bafana Bafana squad for the friendlies against Brazil and Mozambique, his potential and rising talent being noticed by the national coach.

The young man is already looking to be a serious prospect for the national side. Igesund is seeking for overseas-based players who can add to his squad and aid in the preparations for the crucial World Cup qualifying campaign and the African Cup of Nations in 2013.

After living in England for eight years Nthle qualifies to play for both Bafana Bafana and the English national side, but his decision to play for his home country was based on his family connections. He praises his mother for keeping him in tune with his homeland and his roots.

"I am always proud to represent my country so to be called up to the senior squad is a dream,”Ntlhe told BBC Sport in an interview.

“It has been an unbelievable start to the season for me and I am enjoying every minute. I can't wait."

He was linked to a Manchester United move by the British media at the beginning of September. This kind of speculation shows he is being earmarked as a future class player.    

Darren Ferguson has called Nthle Peterborough’s only bright spark in a dull, tepid beginning to their Championship season. The manager has been impressed with the player and personally recommended him to Gordon Igesund.

"I spoke to Darren Ferguson and he said to me 'this player will never let you down, coach',” Igesund told BBC Sport in an interview.

"He says the English Championship is one of the most physical leagues in world football, he says it is100 miles an hour, which we know.

“He says this player is just about his best player at the moment, at the back, playing left-back. He goes forward, he's very strong. This guy needs to be looked at."

Ntlhe has a bright future, defined by his early success. However he will have to learn to deal with the pressures of being a rising star.

Every successful overseas Bafana Bafana player does bear a burden of expectation. Most recently Steven Pienaar and before him Benni McCarthy have both had to deal with the brunt of fan expectations.

Ntlhe is certainly a young footballer who deserves to be noticed and watched by every Bafana Bafana fan. His progress and his ability to raise his game are the most important aspects of his future career.  

Related

From the web