Neil Tovey

Although Tovey was born in Pretoria on the 2nd July 1962, Durban is where he grew up. He matriculated from Northlands Boys High School (now Northwood) in 1979, achieving Natal provincial colours in cricket, hockey, football, softball and baseball, and with the view to joining the medical profession. But things changed. His first love – soccer – was a calling and with a few lessons from brother, Mark, who was already a professional player, Neil pursued a career in sport after he signed up as a professional player for the Durban City Club. Since then, the versatile Tovey, has switched from being a player to a captain, an assistant coach and a coach for clubs like AmaZulu, Kaizer Chiefs, Sundowns, Hellenic and Bafana Bafana. He is regarded by many as one of the greatest footballing icons in South Africa’s soccer history.

Neil Tovey
Neil Tovey

The highlight of Neil Tovey’s career came when he became the first player to captain the national squad after South Africa’s readmittance to the Federation International Football Association (FIFA). It was also during this time that Neil Tovey and Clive Barker led Bafana Bafana to winning the African Cup of Nations – a moment which will surely go down as one of the most memorable moments in the history of South African soccer. Tovey has played 52 international games and captained South Africa 29 times. Domestically he played no fewer than 634 times (the most by any footballer in the PSL) during his 20-year career.

He spent 10 years of his soccer career at Kaizer Chiefs and ultimately retired at the club. Tovey also played for the likes of AmaZulu (5 years) and Durban City (5 years) – 341 times for Kaizer Chiefs, 117 times for AmaZulu and 174 times for Durban City. After retiring from play, Tovey remained within football structures and passed his UEFA A License with the highest marks produced by the course.

But it hasn’t been all roses. In 2002 he was sacked as assistant coach of the national under-20 squad. He was was soon back in the game, however, when he joined and rescued Cape Town’s Hellenic which was sitting at the bottom of the log in the Castle Premiership. He left the club after it was bought by the Benoni-based Ndlovu family to join Sundowns. Tovey’s successes as coach include winning the Rothmans Cup (3 times), Castle League (2 times), Telkom Charity Cup and COSAFA Cup winner (women’s national team). Tovey has coached teams to the level of Bob Save Super Bowl Finalist, MTN 8 Semi-finalist and Nedbank Cup Finalist.

Additional achievements include assisting Sundowns qualify for the African Champions League, saving Hellenic FC from relegation and coaching the National Women’s U20 team for qualification into the 2002 World Youth Championships.

Tovey currently lives in Johannesburg with his wife and three children (two daughters and a son) whom he says have all played a major role supporting his career. On 27 June 2015 he became technical director of the South African national soccer team.

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