South African international Calvin Anele Ngcongca has revealed how he believes that his trial at Arsenal was a pivotal point in his career, despite not securing a move to the club.
At the age of 32, Ngcongca is nearing the end of his career at present, and with his current contract set to end this summer, there is a chance he could be looking to hang-up his boots soon, but having started in 11 of the club’s 19 league outings this term, you would expect that he will have an offer to stay on.
In this time, he has been reflecting on his career, in which he became a cult hero in Genk after a 10-year spell with the club, in which he was proud to wear the captain’s armband, but even looked further back to a surprise highlight of his career.
Calvin came to North London on trial in 2006, and the manager is believed to have wanted to agree a deal to sign the South African.
“I was only 16 playing for FC Fortune. A few seasons later, I found myself on a flight to London [for a trial with Arsenal].
“When I look back, I see this boy from Gugulethu who had a dream. Even up to today, my mother and I always ask each other where would I be in life, had it not been for football.”
The then-youngster’s move is said to have been blocked by supposed work permit issues, but the trial did spur him onto pursue his career further, as his confidence grew by training alongside key stars.
“Alexander Song was also there, and I kept asking myself if this was some sort of a dream because these were people I watched with keen interest on television. It was a defining moment in my career,” he continued.
Ngcongca goes onto talk about his relationship with Genk, where he spent nine years of his playing career before returning to play back in his homeland with Mamelodi Sundowns.
“The people there still have respect for me and being in their team of the decade means a lot to me. I always felt the love but now since I’ve left, I see it was extraordinary,” he said.
“I’m so proud that I left a mark at Genk. For a boy from Gugulethu to make it in Belgium and become the second in the club’s history for playing more games is a milestone. Having to captain them was such an awesome thing.”
It’s crazy how much of an impact Arsene Wenger could have on players in such a short space of time, and it seems a shame that the move would have failed due to a work permit.
Have Arsenal needed a consistent right-back in the side with the work ethic of Ngcongca?