DURBAN – Ajax Cape Town CEO Ari Efstathiou has declared the transfer of Rivaldo Coetzee to Glasgow Celtic as one of the biggest transfers in the club’s history.
Coetzee (20) joined the Scottish giants from Ajax this week.
The Urban Warriors are currently leading the pack in terms of importing players to Europe.
“It is one of the highest transfers. We made good millions. Millions sound better than thousands, hey. We are the biggest development team in South Africa. We are a big team. Ajax are all about taking young players and making them big. That’s what the team is about,” Efstathiou said.
“Our youth academy process has been going for the past 18 years. This is not the first and it is not a fluke, and we will do a lot of these transfers in the years to come.”
Over the years they have exported several players to top European leagues.
The legendary Steven “Schillo” Pienaar, Bryce “Snege” Moon, Thulani “Cream” Serero, Daylon Claasen, Stanton Lewis, Thembinkosi “Terror” Fanteni, Russell Mwafulirwa, Nathan Paulse and Eyong Enoh were all on the books of Ajax before they embarked on their overseas journey.
“When you have an academy, you coach the player properly and they get noticed. Rivaldo has been playing in the national team since he was 17. What we needed to do was to be careful and patient so that we can make sure we take him to the right team. We are glad the right team came forward,” Efstathiou explained.
Coetzee, who has already competed in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and at the Olympic Games, is guaranteed Uefa Champions League football.
Last season, Celtic won the league without losing a single match.
“He is such a fantastic talent and there’s no reason he can’t shine. He will do well. He left at the right age. He has the experience of a 25 year old. He is five years ahead of everybody,” Efstathiou said.
“Having a coach like Brendan Rodgers who loves him gives him the edge. He will do wonders in Scotland. We began talking a long time ago. We’ve been speaking for a while.
“Yes, we had offers from South African teams, but we wanted him to go to Europe. He won the MTN8, he has played in the Olympic Games and the Afcon. He has already played several times for Bafana. All he needed was an overseas move.”
Ajax mentor Stanley Menzo believed that adaptation is key for Coetzee in Scotland.
“It is normal to lose a player of Rivaldo’s calibre. We have to find a replacement. That’s what we busy with. It is part of football. You can’t mourn too much about losing the player,” the coach said.
“I hope he does well. He is a great player. Scotland is totally different. This is good for South African football. Mentally it will be tough for him. He must try and adapt as soon as possible, and must quickly get used to the weather and the method of training. He won’t get time to settle in there.
“One month is enough. It is not like in South Africa, where six months is enough.”
There’s no doubt that Coetzee will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Lucas Radebe, Mark Fish, Aaron Mokoena, Naasief Morris, David Nyathi and Tsepo Masilela, who all did well in top European leagues.
Ajax Cape Town transfers
- Thulani Serero to Ajax Amsterdam (Holland) in 2011
- Steven Pienaar to Ajax Amsterdam (Holland) in 2001
- Eyong Enoh to Ajax Amsterdam (Holland) in 2008
- Bryce Moon to Panathinaikos (Greece) in 2008
- Thembinkosi Fanteni to Maccabi Haifa (Israel) in 2008
- Russell Mwafulirwa to IFK Norrkoping (Sweden) in 2011
- Daylon Claasen to Ajax Amsterdam (Holland) in 2008
- Stanton Lewis to Ajax Amsterdam (Holland) in 2006