One on One with Nike Academy Rising Star Jonathan King

Wed, 07/11/2012 - 13:47
  • Jonathan King

The highly talented South African wing back who attended the elite Nike Academy, Jonathan King, speaks to HSSM's Sazi Luke in an exclusive interview where he discusses his experience at the Nike Academy in the UK, the injury that set back his career, and which PSL teams are monitoring his rehabilitation and progress.


Teams Age
U17 Eastern Cape 13
U15 KZN 15
U17 KZN 16
U19 KZn 17
Nike International Academy 18

HSSM: Jonathan, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your involvement in soccer?
Jonathan King: Okay, my name is Jonathan King, I’m from Matatiele in the Eastern Cape – that’s where I started playing soccer at 6 years old at the Matatiele Academy. That’s the place where I first learnt my basics, discipline and everything. I had an opportunity in 2007 when I had trials here in Durban, and that’s where DHS first saw me and gave me a scholarship to come study here in Durban.

HSSM: When was is that you started taking soccer seriously and realized you had quite a natural flair at it?
Jonathan King: There was this one tournament we were playing in Matatiele and teams from Durban were invited. I was thirteen playing in a u17 tournament and won player of the tournament. That was when I told myself that I could make a future for myself and that’s when I took it seriously to do my work and focus on soccer. Then I got the opportunity to come to Durban and that opportunity has opened more opportunities.

HSSM: How did the opportunity to attend DHS and getting a scholarship come about?Jonathan King Nike Academy
Jonathan King: I was scouted by Mr Bodasing. I had a friend from Matatiele who was attending DHS and his father had a talk with Mr Bodasing about my academy. We played a friendly against DHS and afterwards I was offered a scholarship.

“two of us from South Africa made it, myself and Reeyad Pieterse from Joburg”

HSSM: Who were your soccer role models growing up, and who would you say has been your biggest support system?
Jonathan King: Barcelona player Daniel Alves, who plays wing back like me. So I look up to him, and when I watch Barcelona play I look at what he does and see where I can improve.  My mother always supported me and was always there for me.

HSSM: What contribution would you say DHS has had towards your soccer development?
Jonathan King: I was at DHS for 4 years, and I was given an opportunity by Mr Bodasing to play 1st team while in grade 9. I think that has helped me a lot because I was playing with people older than me which gave me more confidence.

HSSM: You were talented and privileged enough to make it into the Nike Academy in England out of the 100,000s of players around the world who trialled for it, could you tell us more about that journey?
Jonathan King: That was a long, long, long set of trials that you had to go through. I first had to go through the Durban trials at Cato Manor where there were over a thousand boys that were there, and they only chose five and I was one of them. Then those five from KZN were joined to the rest of the finalists of the other provinces. The final four from the country were selected in Cape Town from the 29 national finalists, and I was one those four that were selected to go global and make up the top 100 from all over the world. They were only looking at selecting eight players from the hundred in a four day trial. The first couple of days were basics doing ball control, and then the second day they selected the top 32 from 100. I was one of three that made it from South Africa that made it into the 32 where we had the privilege of training at the MK Dons stadium, and afterwards were rewarded with watching an Arsenal and Portsmouth game. From that 32, a top eight was selected and two of us from South Africa made it, myself and Reeyad Pieterse from Joburg. That eight then made the academy along with other players from professional clubs in England.

“Everything is faster, like you play football at 100 miles per hour”

HSSM:  having experienced soccer in the UK, how would you say it is compared to that in the country?
Jonathan King:   Everything is faster, like you play football at 100 miles per hour. Here in South Africa you have so much more space, and in England you have no space. Once you have the ball there you already have like three players on top of you, and that was the most difficult part.

HSSM: What experience did you take from your time at the Nike academy?
Jonathan King: We played professional teams in the first division and the premier league, and there were scouts at every game and that gave us an opportunity to go professional.

HSSM: Your time at the Nike academy was cut short by an unfortunate injury, could you tell us a bit more about that?

“I got an injury in the second week in the academy”

Jonathan King: I was unlucky as I got an injury in the second week in the academy; I snapped my ankle ligament and was out for a couple of months. I went to see a surgeon and he recommended me to have surgery, but they also wanted me to play so they gave me a steroid injection from October until December. It was tough because mentally my ankle was still giving problems; I was scared of going into challenges. But I finally had an operation in January.

HSSM: How has this injury set you back in terms of your progress as a young developing player?
Jonathan King: It does affect me because I’m still injured, but I’m being strong and patient because I know I’m young. And by next year I’ll be able to play. I’m working hard even though I’m not playing, and watching hurts but I can learn. It is a downfall, but being a strong character it’s not that bad because I know in the future I will get there.

HSSM: What is the next step in your career once you have recovered?
Jonathan King: At the moment me and my agent Hugo from Joburg are looking at PSL [Premier Soccer League] teams. He has spoken to some PSL teams about me already, but we are just waiting for me to be 100%. Then from there my stepping stone will be to be in the PSL for one or two years to develop and get stronger, and in my third year look for an overseas team.

Jonathan King Nike Academy 2

“Discipline plays a major role in your life if you want to become professional”

HSSM: Which of those PSL teams have shown an interest in you?
Jonathan King: I don’t want to say what team as I don’t know what might happen, but he has said he has spoken to Supersport United, Black Leopards –and Kaiser Chiefs have been speaking about me, and I was supposed to go to Wits but my injury let me down. And teams like Golden Arrows, I’m not too sure if it’s true but they have kind of approached me.

HSSM: If you had to choose a PSL team to play for, which would it be?
Jonathan King: At the moment it would have to be Supersport as it looks like a good team to start off with because I don’t want to go big and then fall. I want to start off small then go up.

HSSM: What would you say are your short term and long term goals in football?
Jonathan King: My short term goal is to get fit, because I know and believe in myself that I can make it in the PSL with the ability I’ve got, my hard work and discipline. Discipline plays a major role in your life if you want to become professional. My long term goal is to play for a professional team and my national team Bafana, and then go abroad in 2-3 years’ time.

“hard work always pays off”

HSSM: As someone who has represented their province at various age levels and has been privileged to go abroad to play soccer, what message would you give to people who are also pursuing these achievements?
Jonathan King: I would tell them hard work always pays off. Even if it’s painful at first, they shouldn’t give up because there are a lot of opportunities. And they should take their chances; it’s not always about talent, it’s about hard work. As Arsene’ Wenger says, it’s 99% hard work and 1% talent so that hard work will take you far.

“her name is Khristen”

HSSM: On a more personal level, what do you do besides playing football?
Jonathan King: I like being with friends, chilling, having fun and going out. But not going out as in clubbing because if you want to become a professional you have to be disciplined.

HSSM: And finally, is there any special lady in your life?
Jonathan King: [laughs] At the moment there is a special lady. She is from Durban and her name is Khristen from DGHS.



Submitted by rudy-lee johnson (not verified) on

I have had the privilege of meeting Jonothan King, and he is a remarkable young man. Iv never seen such dedication, commitment and discipline in someone as young as him, not only with his career but also with the people around him, always ready to help a friend and is one of the most down to earth people I know. Jonothan King has the potential to go far cause he is level headed and because he knows what he wants out of life and how to achieve it, hard work and discipline. I can't wait to watch him play in big leagues and watch his talent grow

Submitted by Tatum Ruiters (not verified) on

I'm so proud of you cus <3 love you forever and always

Submitted by Siya "Booth" Gumede (not verified) on

I was at the trials in cator manor where he was first scouted.maybe i was going to make it if he was not there.he was my opponent and every time he got the ball he turned into an aeroplane i coulndt get even 1 touch in the ball. He is good i confess

Submitted by Donald Daniels (not verified) on

Jonathan King is the best young football player I have seen and is a living example that anyone who is determined enough can fulfill their dreams. Can't wait to see him shine and represent our country in the national Team

Submitted by Tashinga Owen g... (not verified) on

This is a very good school I'll like to come and be part of that school.

Submitted by olemogeng (not verified) on

dear sir or madan i'll like to be one of the soccer star and im good at playing soccer;

Submitted by desmond (not verified) on

one of kind sins i started watching him at a tender age of 6 player in the matatiele foot ball academy was a joy to trainee as he was Discipline in everything he those his humble and i hope u stay's that way just wane say take it with both hands and brace it.

one to watch in the futher. happy to have played apart in your development

Submitted by Boateng Abraham (not verified) on

Good day sir, I am an SHS graduate seeking to play football as a profession.I am well determined, self motivated, and physically fit.I have passion for football and I hope I get a chance with your honorable soccer establishment to undergo more training.I hope hear from you soon. Thank you

Submitted by Thiago (not verified) on

He is a good soccer player and in the future i hope he will play for the biggest teams in the world thank u

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