Arsenal legend Ian Wright is still solicitous about Bafana Bafana ace Percy Tau’s hurdle in securing a UK work permit.
Invited to motivate Bloemfontein Celtic’s MultiChoice Diski Challenge (MDC) team at their hotel in London, Wright received a standing ovation from the South Africans when he entered the meeting room.
The heart-to-heart session lasted about two hours as the legendary striker reminisced about his colourful football career.
Wright’s knowledge of South African football made it easier for Celtic’s Diski troops to relate.
“Look at Percy, I’ve seen him. You can’t tell me Percy cannot play at Brighton & Hove Albion. He’s good, brilliant… a good footballer, man! You have to judge people on their abilities,” Wright asserted.
“It’s going to be difficult for South African players to play in England because of the work permit situation and getting SA to a level where a player can come straight to England and get the work permit.”
The Gunners and Three Lions legend added it must be people who played and know the beautiful game who should regulate work permit-related laws for foreign players in the UK.
“That’s why you need football people making these decisions. It’s not decisions for government people, civil servant people… football people have to take control of this situation,” Wright stated.
Tau joined Brighton from Mamelodi Sundowns on a record SA transfer fee in the region of R50m in July last year.
But the Bafana star is still on a season-long loan at Belgian second-tier side Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, struggling to obtain a UK work permit.
“The problem is that [in the UK] they don’t take you on talent. They take you on logistics and red-tape … you have to play a certain amount of games internationally,” said Wright.
Wright, 55, was somewhat of a late bloomer, starting his career at 22 and only getting his first England call-up four years later.
He had a spate of abortive trials with various clubs such as Brighton.
These were among other examples he used to encourage the Phunya Sele Sele MDC team.
*Ndebele is in London as a guest of MultiChoice