CAPE TOWN – After more than 20 years as a professional footballer, Siyabonga Nomvethe says the time has come to “say goodbye” to the South African soccer scene.
The 40-year-old from KwaMashu played in two Fifa World Cups (2002 and 2010) for Bafana Bafana, and went from African Wanderers to Kaizer Chiefs, and Italy, Sweden and Denmark, before returning to Mzansi to play for Moroka Swallows and AmaZulu.
‘Bhele’ Nomvethe earned 81 caps for South Africa between 1999 and 2012 (with 16 goals), and is the leading scorer in Premier Soccer League history with 111 strikes.
He scored the decisive goal in Bafana’s first World Cup win, a 1-0 triumph over Slovenia in Daegu, South Korea in 2002.
Nomvethe played for African Wanderers, Kaizer Chiefs, Udinese, Salernitana, Empoli, Djurgarden, Orlando Pirates, AaB, Moroka Swallows and AmaZulu.
“It’s time for the youngsters to take over. Football is about playing with the heart. I have done my part. I am very happy. It is time to say goodbye. Thank you to everyone who supported me along the way,” Nomvethe said at a press conference in Durban on Friday.
“I have played all over the world. Scored in the World Cup. Won awards, but for me, the most important thing was to keep playing and enjoying football.”
AmaZulu said on Friday that Nomvethe will complete his contract, which ends in December, and a testimonial match will be arranged.
“There are going to be many events that we will plan to give Bhele the send-off he deserves,” said AmaZulu general manager Lunga Sokhela. “Bhele is still part of the squad. He is available for selection. This is just to announce his last season for the club.”
Coach Cavin Johnson added: “He has inspired players. He has showed people what hard work is all about. It has been a real pleasure working with Bhele.”