Just two years ago, Percy Tau was sent out on loan to national first division side Witbank Spurs.
One can only imagine what it does to a footballer’s mentality and emotional state to have to return to his hometown club after spending six years in the Mamelodi Sundowns youth structures.
At that point Tau’s Sundowns career was in the balance.
Fast forward two years and four months and Percy is the toast of South African football.
Last week at the Sandton Convention Centre, the Downs star was crowned Footballer of the Year.
He also won the prestigious Players’ Player of the Year award, meaning his opponents have recognised him as outstanding and probably the player they fear most.
Tau scored 11 goals en route to Downs’ title victory, which meant he finished joint top-scorer with Rodney Ramagalela.
To think that Tau was reportedly on a list of players set to be released by the club.
Those in the coaching structures perceived him to be lazy, but Rhulani Mokoena, then youth coach at Sundowns and assistant to Pitso Mosimane, was one of those who saw something in Tau and convinced him to go on loan instead.
In the end, his loan spell was cut short and Tau returned to help the side win the biggest prize in African football, the CAF Champions League.
There is a picture of Tau, in the midst of all the celebrations and madness after the final, sitting on the ground staring in apparent disbelief at his Caf Champions League medal.
And when you think about the fact that his career could have gone another way just a few months earlier, that picture has even more meaning.
For Mosimane and the Sundowns family, they had to rebuild after the famous deadly trio of CBD - Castro, Billiat and Dolly - broke up.
And it was a stroke of genius by the club to build everything around Tau.
He is the heartbeat of that Sundowns team now and he won those accolades because he ran this league ragged en route to the title.
Tau seems to shy away from the media - he was reluctant to do an interview on the red carpet with me and whenever he wins man of the match, he always seems like he wants to rush off to the changing room during his interview.
All I can say to that is he’d better get used to the spotlight because with Europe calling his name, Tau’s rise is only starting.