With former Borussia Dortmund, Everton and Sunderland midfielder Steven Pienaar returning to the Premier Soccer League after 16 years abroad, we wonder if “Schillo” still has the magic touch.
But in the meantime, we look at 11 South African players who made their way back home to either end their career or try and resurrect it.
The late midfield maestro rejoined Kaizer Chiefs at the vintage age of 37 and helped the Glamour Boys win their first ever league title in the Premier League era during the 2003/04 season, ending the campaign as the club’s top goal scorer. Very few would have believed Moshoeu had all it took to prove a decent recruit considering his age after a decade playing in Turkey.
Another player who ended speculation on whether he would try one more year in Europe when he signed a two-year contract with Orlando Pirates in 2011. The well-travelled McCarthy certainly wound down his career in style, helping the Buccaneers defend their treble in his first season and ending that campaign as the club’s top goal scorer. His second year with Pirates was a far cry from the first, however, partly because of injuries. He retired subsequent to that.
Given his successful career abroad, Mokoena’s stint back in the PSL was a serious anticlimax. The defender joined Bidvest Wits in 2012, but hardly got going. Seen to be the club’s marquee signing at the time, the former Blackburn Rovers captain featured in a handful of matches at the start of the season and never really made an impact. Appears to have been forced into retirement earlier than he anticipated as he was still only 32.
There are mixed feelings about his return to the PSL as he first joined Mamelodi Sundowns for a season in 2008 and then returned to Denmark prior to making yet another return to SA to join Vasco Da Gama and then later SuperSport, who signed him on the back of a breathtaking spell at Vasco a year earlier. He was a flop at Downs, a hit at Vasco and sort of in between at SuperSport.
He is almost the forgotten man as far as SA players who excelled abroad for so many years. Morris joined SuperSport after several years in Greece and Spain, but barely made an impact before deciding to join Santos and play in the National First Division.
Elrio van Heerden
For someone whose career looked destined for greatness, Van Heerden’s homecoming was a huge disappointment. Perhaps he didn’t have much of a choice, but after playing for Club Brugge in Denmark and Blackburn Rovers in England, the winger joined Golden Arrows. There is not much to say after that
Another player who opted for Arrows, the team that had sold him to Fulham several years earlier. The former 2010 World Cup player seemed settled at Cardiff City in the second tier of English football until his contract came to and end. Arrows have since released him after barely playing last season.
After over a 100 games for Rubin Kazan in Russia playing in the Champions League and two World Cups representing Bafana Bafana, MacBeth made the bizarre choice of joining Moroka Swallows when it was believed he had the likes of Chiefs, Sundowns and Pirates desperate to sign him. He did have an impact, but the club was already in troubled waters financially as he was winding down his career. He may have carried on for a season or two had the situation been different.
It’s amazing that he held on for so long in Europe, where he never made an official debut for Tottenham Hotspur in more than four years, with the English club choosing to rather loan him out than prepare him for first-team football. He’s not done too badly since coming back, but he’d have liked more game time. Helped Wits win the league in May.
At 39, Bhele is still going strong and could be back in the Premier League with AmaZulu next season after Usuthu, who were in the NFD, successfully purchased the franchise of Thanda Royal Zulu this week. ‘Bhele’ was their top scorer last season and was voted Footballer of the Year in 2012 when he was at Swallows, where he also clinched the league’s Golden Boot with an incredible 20 league goals.
Finding his feet slowly at Downs after battling with injury upon arrival early last season. His experience likely to prove valuable in the CAF Champions League this year. The Bafana rightback still has some mileage in him.