Mlungisi Raphael “Professor” Ngubane was born 20 February 1956 in Durban. He is a former South African soccer player and former coach of National First Division club, Thanda Royal Zulu. He previously coached Durban Bush Bucks, AmaZulu FC, Maritzburg United, Bush Bucks, Black Leopards, amongst others.
“When I was a youngster I used to juggle the ball with my head 2 000 times until my neck was sore. I used to do this all the way from my home to the shops, which were 600 metres away”.
‘Professor’ has been a professional footballer all his life, and a ‘dead ball specialist’. A goal is almost inevitable when he takes a corner or free kick. Naturally, many top Johannesburg teams wanted to sign him but his home loyalties have kept him in KwaZulu-Natal. He was with Bush Bucks for 14 years – a showman and centre of attention for their great soccer team of 1985 – 87 and with AmaZulu for 15 years.
Professor’s name is held up among the very best in the country. His ball-juggling skills were sublime and apparently effortless, whether using chest, feet, outside of left foot, or head (in dozens of consecutive headers). He could swing his left leg behind his right to score or even back-heel it in mid-air. Professor was not just a circus act: he was a clever organiser and troublesome opponent, with cheeky zig-zagging passes – short or long – and he was even more deadly with his long free-range free kicks. More recently he has set up the Mlungisi Ngubane Foundation which aims to develop the youth of South Africa in terms of their soccer skills and education.