JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs’ gesture to visit Khama Billiat’s family, to also get their blessings while courting the Zimbabwean forward, touched the former Mamelodi Sundowns star and swayed him to sign for the Glamour Boys.
The 27-year-old was wanted by Egyptian giants Zamalek, among the many offers on his table that included interest from Saudi Arabia, while the Brazilians were also keen to keep him.
Chiefs’ football manager Bobby Motaung visited Billiat’s family in Harare while negotiating a contract with him that’s reported to be among the biggest in the country.
“It’s emotional, man,” Billiat said at FNB Stadium yesterday. “Coming to see my parents and talking to them, that hasn’t happened in my career.
“No club has ever done that. It’s something I take with my heart. I really respect it. My family liked it. They felt respected.
“That’s all I need, my family to be happy. I was so happy about it. I thank the team. I thank Bobby.”
Billiat continued: “Coming to Chiefs is a great opportunity. I have always wanted to play for Kaizer Chiefs. This is a big team.
“I have always wanted to play in front of a full house. I want to see how my level of concentration is like during such games, in a full house.”
Billiat could have been at Chiefs a long time ago, but the club opted to only sign Knowledge Musona from Aces Youth Academy in Zimbabwe in 2009.
Billiat joined Amakhosi via Ajax Cape Town and the Brazilians.
At FNB Stadium today (3pm kickoff) he will come up against his former team, Sundowns, in the Shell Helix Ultra Cup.
Patrick Mabedi will continue to serve as caretaker coach for Chiefs while Italian coach Giovanni Solinas awaits his work permit.
This pre-season friendly will give Amakhosi an indication of where the club is going before they take on the Brazilians in their first league match on August 4.
“It’s a big game,” Billiat said. “But it’s not all about me. It’s about the club, the supporters, the chairman and everyone who is behind the team. We want to do our best.
“We want to see how far we can go, preparing for the league. It’s a big test for us. We are looking forward to it. The team is looking sharp and everyone is happy. I know the players at Sundowns, they know me. We know each other. We are friends.
“That’s what makes football interesting, you have to come up with something special whenever you play because of how much we know each other.”
There are a number of familiar faces for Billiat in the Chiefs’ camp, too. There are his Zimbabwe teammates Willard Katsande and Teenage Hadebe.
He is also reuniting with his former Sundowns teammates Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Leonardo Castro. Chiefs’ fans are hoping that his combination with Castro will be as deadly as it was during the pair’s time at Sundowns.
Billiat and Castro formed a potent attacking trio along with Keagan Dolly, who now plays in France, helping the Tshwane giants win the league in record style three seasons ago.
“Castro is a great player to play with. I missed him, I must say,” Billiat said.
“Hopefully we will continue where we left off. I know that it’s a different team with different tactics and we work differently but I am sure that something can be worked out.”@NJABULON