South African international Siyabonga Nomvete is moving next month to Italy where he will join First Division outfit Udinese, in what many would say is a long-overdue switch to Europe.
The 23-year-old striker played his last game for Kaizer Chiefs at the weekend against Orlando Pirates, in the replay of the game that ended so tragically at Ellis Park Stadium in April.
Nomvete is finally about to start a new career, after he stood out at last year’s African Cup of Nations.
His manager Mike Makaab told the BBC: “There are a number of reasons explaining why it has taken so long for him to move to Europe.
“Siyabonga was out of contract at the end of last season, but we decided to sign a new deal with Kaizer Chiefs in the hope that the Olympic Games would be a good showpiece for his talent.
“But South Africa did not progress beyond the preliminary round, so that backfired a bit, I must admit.
“Also, there are always three parties involved in any negotiation – the selling club, the purchasing club and the player – and although we had a couple of deals that looked pretty much as if they would go through, we couldn’t complete the formalities.
“Now everyone has a smile on his face after this deal with Udinese”, added Makaab.
Nomvete will travel to Italy in the first week of July to join Udinese at their training camp.
There is no sign that he is worried about suffering from any culture shock.
“He is excited,” says Makaab. “He is a young man who takes everything in his stride.
“To help him settle down, we are sending a ‘chaperone’ with him for the first three months to teach him Italian, help him to drive on the right side of the road and also to make sure he knows where to shop.”
By moving to Europe, Nomvete follows in the steps of the likes of Lucas Radebe, Phil Masinga, Mark Fish and Quinton Fortune who, along with many other South Africans, have had trouble being available for both club and country.
“We intend to meet the national team coach Carlos Queiroz within the next three weeks to try and map out a programme that is going to be acceptable to both South Africa and Udinese,” says Makaab.
“The last thing we want is for Siyabonga to go overseas and then not to get the opportunity to play for his new club, because this is going to affect his future.”