CAPE TOWN – Since the formation of Ajax Cape Town in 1999, there aren’t all that many successes to talk about with regards to transfers to Ajax Amsterdam.
Benni McCarthy, Steven Pienaar, Eyong Enoh and maybe Thulani Serero, but that’s it.
Others like Clayton Daniels and Rivaldo Coetzee, to name a few, have been in the Netherlands for training spells without any positive overtures from the Dutch.
So when Ajax Amsterdam, a club with a storied history in world football, sign two 18-year-olds from Ajax Cape Town’s famed youth academy – central defender Dean Solomons and winger Leo Thethani – then you’d better take note.
What’s more, the fact that the two youngsters have landed the high-profile transfer, before even featuring in senior football, is a testament to just how good they are, and how loftily they are rated by Ajax Amsterdam.
Last week, lost in the hype of the local transfer window, the transfer of Solomons and Thetani was an even bigger, probably far more important, piece of football business. According to the football grapevine, the teenagers are definitely destined for international stardom.
The two burgeoning Capetonians are currently in London with the South Africa Under-20 squad, and are expected to head for the Netherlands later this month.
A promising junior, Solomons accumulated numerous junior awards at Ashford Athletic before joining the Ajax Cape Town academy at the age of 11. It was to be the start of a journey that would eventually culminate in last week’s sought-after move to play professional football in Europe.
The 18-year-old central defender’s ability was endorsed by Duncan Crowie and Sergio dos Santos, with both also lauding the player’s temperament as a key reason for his elevation to the European stage.
Crowie, the former Santos legend, coached Solomons during Ajax Under-19s’ European tour in May this year – and it was based on his performances during this trip that Ajax Amsterdam moved speedily to capture his signature.
“Dean has been with us since a young age, around 11 I think, and what makes him so good is his attitude to the game,” said Crowie.
“There are an abundance of central defenders at the Ajax Cape Town academy at the moment, but Dean has made it to Europe earlier than the others because of the positive way he approaches the game.
“He is a composed central defender, capable of starting play from the back. Also, because of his size, he is a tall, elegant footballer, he is just the type of player they are looking for in Europe.”
Dos Santos, the head of scouting at Ajax Cape Town, has no doubt Solomons has what it takes to succeed in Europe.
“Dean has a cool, composed head on his shoulders,” said Dos Santos.
“He is unruffled under pressure, he is good in the air, and a great distributor of the ball. I can assure you, he is a super talent with a great future. Above all, and this is very important, he is a very nice young man. In short, he has all the qualities, and everything is now in his hands.”
McCarthy, Lucas Radebe, Quinton Fortune, Pienaar and Shaun Bartlett are probably South Africa’s most well-known football exports.
Well, now, there are many who believe that, pretty soon, we will be mentioning Solomons and Thethani in the same sentence.