Peter Ndlovu has quite literally swapped his scoring boots for shiny shoes and a dapper suit as the Mamelodi Sundowns team manager.
Well, he wears sneakers, too, sometimes, which he needs considering the amount of travel that happens at Chloorkop in the country and on the continent.
A prolific striker during his heydays, ‘The Bulawayo Bullet’ as he was affectionately known, Ndlovu played for Coventry City, Birmingham City and Sheffield United in the UK before finally taking the decision to end his career abroad.
When word got out that a man who’d scored more than 90 goals in Europe was contemplating a shift to the Premier Soccer League – there was a queue.
But Ndlovu became one of the first marquee signings at Sundowns by president Patrice Motsepe in 2004 and would spend four years at Chloorkop clocking over 80 games.
“Sundowns has been my home for a long time, I have probably been here longer than everyone. They looked after me as a player and I think it was easy to have a look at my future and decide to come into management,” he says.
“One of things I used to do during my playing days was manage players, help them out and do things that help them. Myself, Brian (Baloyi) and other senior players used to try and do that. So, when I was asked to be the team manager, although it’s a different ball game, I took what I learnt. Of course things change and so does management, and you have to upgrade and update every time. The challenge is that you must never use what’s in the past when there’s a new system, and by that I mean I should never speak about my achievements then.”
Ndlovu, captain of his native Zimbabwe at the time, made history during the 1994-95 season when he scored a hat-trick for Coventry City at Anfield.
Although he says it was the “limelight” of his career to become the first opposition player to score three goals away to Liverpool in over 30 years, he wants to be as sharp in his role as Sundowns team manager without counting too much on his success.
“It’s what I do now that’s important because you are not judged on what you’ve done, but what you are doing. It’s a big challenge. You have to respect the players and be there for them and make sure that you manage and understand them,” Ndlovu says.
“When you have respect from the players then it becomes a two-way street. I also get help from a lot of people at the club, who are around me and make my job easier.”