Mark Williams: ‘Invest money carefully’

The Nedbank Cup is back, soccer fever is in the air, and the excitement is not limited to the on-field action. The MoneyEDGE platform is using South Africa’s passion for football to inspire authentic money conversations through Nedbank Reality Football, a series of interviews with local legends of the game.

Episode 3 features Mark Williams, the national hero who scored twice against Tunisia in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) final in 1996 to help South Africa secure an unlikely victory. Cheered on by a soccer-loving nation and a charismatic president, Bafana Bafana won the continental tournament despite being readmitted to international soccer only a few years earlier.

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Mark was 29 at the time, playing club football with Wolverhampton Wanderers in England. Winning the Afcon final defined his career. Since then, he’s played for many teams in the PSL, including Jomo Cosmos, Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs. He’s also plied his trade in Brazil, China and Brunei.

Inspiring others through his life journey

After a tough childhood in Hanover Park, football gave Mark an alternative to the gangsterism prevalent on the Cape Flats. He talks about his youth and his escape from the gangs in his 2021 autobiography, From Gangster to Soccer Legend, which he hopes will inspire others to make smart life decisions.

His dedication to the national team and the charitable work he does off the field has earned him the nickname ‘the Nation Builder’. He engages in philanthropy in his community because he believes in giving back. ‘You can’t buy the feeling of putting a smile on a kid’s face,’ he says. 


It’s important for young players to save and invest smartly throughout their careers


Over the years he learned the importance of investing wisely to build his finances, something he wishes young footballers could also do, so they won’t struggle after their careers. He works hard to mentor young players, using the example of his own life story to inspire them to greatness.

The importance of listening to financial advice

Starting his career at Hellenic Football Club in Cape Town, Mark listened carefully to money tips from his teammates when they socialised after training. He acquired a passion for investing in property. ‘I believe that you can never go wrong with property. You can rent it out while playing football so that it can pay for itself,’ he says.

He has since retired from football and plays a lot of golf these days, a sport he loves because it encourages networking and can unlock business opportunities. Again, he prefers to listen to others for advice, so he can learn more about business and finances. ‘Listening is a skill,’ he says. He’s also made a few financial blunders in the past, so he’s learnt the hard way. His advice is: ‘Don’t invest in something you don’t know. There are a lot of scams out there.’

Planning for the future

Mark advises young footballers to handle their finances carefully, so that they can take advantage of business opportunities that come their way once they have retired. But during their playing days, he believes that players should focus on football and give the sport their all.

That’s why it’s important for young players to save and invest smartly throughout their careers, so that they will have enough capital to venture into business when they retire. ‘Invest money correctly,’ he says.

Watch the full interview with Mark. And remember you can always get free money management tips with courses on budgeting, saving and investing when you sign up for free at MoneyEDGE.