The youngster that comes from Polokwane, Thato Matli made the long journey to Chloorkop back in 2015 where he was one of the youngest players, at age 12, to make a home at the Sundowns res.
Now balancing football and matric in these tricky times, the midfielder has had to make some adjusting to his life. Get to know the young attacking midfielder:
When did you decide what position you wanted to play?
I started off as a right winger but then converted to an attacking midfielder because of my “creativity”, as my coach said.
When and how did you join the Sundowns academy?
I was playing a match and I had my best game on the day, coach Mandla Mazibuko was there on the day and identified my potential. I joined Mamelodi Sundowns in 2015 when I was 12, I was one of the youngest players to live at the res at the time.
How do you manage to study and play football?
To be honest, it’s a really difficult time for me in my life because it’s my last high school year and corona virus has really affected our academic year, we can’t even play soccer. Prioritizing works for me because I know that my main focus this year is to finish high school on a good note and not having football action is giving me the time to focus more on my school work.
Which footballers do you look up to and why?
I look up to Isco, Philliphe Coutinho and Paulo Dybala, they play in the same position as me and they all have their own unique style of play that makes them different to other players, I think that’s a characteristic I have too.
What do you hope to achieve with your time at Sundowns?
I want to grow as a person and player. With all the years I’ve spent here I have certainly learnt a lot and I’m willing to grow and become a better person. I’d also like to achieve U20 National Team Colours with Mamelodi Sundowns
Who in the current Sundowns squad do you hope to play with one day?
I would like to play with Oupa Manyisa because he’s very calm on the ball and is not afraid to play in tight situations.