Will Siphiwe Tshabalala succeed in Europe?

The old adage “age is nothing but a number” has been proven true now and again by some of football’s biggest stars. From Cristiano Ronaldo’s shock move to Juventus, then Gianluigi Buffon’s surprise switch to French giants PSG, our football stars seem far from hanging up their boots. That said, even our own African superstars have also followed suit in their hunger for more success and new challenges. South African legend Siphiwe Tshabalala has also been a focal talking point following his departure from Kaizer Chiefs to Turkish outfit Büyükşehir Belediye Erzurumspor.

Shabba’s time at Amakhosi

Siphiwe Tshabalala of South Africa scores the first goal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group A match between South Africa and Mexico at Soccer City Stadium on June 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (June 10, 2010 - Source: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe)

Siphiwe Tshabalala of South Africa scores the first goal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group A match between South Africa and Mexico at Soccer City Stadium on June 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

(June 10, 2010 - Source: Clive Rose/Getty Images Europe)

Siphiwe Tshabalala joined South African giants Kaizer Chiefs back in 2007 from a first division club at the time, Free State Stars and went on to have a great deal of success with the Soweto club. At Chiefs, “Ntho tse monate”, as Shabba is known in the football circles won two ABSA premiership titles with Amakhosi as well as six domestic cups with the club. Shabba also won the coveted Kaizer Chiefs player of the season back in the 2008/2009 season after an impressive showing in the season. The 33-year-old dreadlocked winger made a total of 358 appearances for the mighty Amakhosi and also went on to score 58 goals overall.

Apart from being a popular premier league player, Tshabalala also made headlines for some moments of brilliance on the international stage. A big moment that elevated his popularity in the football circles was his outrageous long range goal that he scored for Bafana Bafana, the South African national team, back in 2010 during the opening match of the FIFA world cup against Mexico. It was an emotional moment not only for Shabba but the African continent as a whole as it was the first ever goal to be scored in a world cup hosted on African soil and it surely had the characteristics of a classic goal. As if that was enough, Shabba’s goal was nominated for the FIFA “puskas” award as a strong contender for goal of the year in 2010. Tshabalala made 91 appearances for Bafana Bafana and went on to score 12 goals of which  most of them were from set pieces as he was a dead-ball specialist with his revered left foot.

Style of play

SiphiweTshabalala (L) of the Chiefs runs with the ball during the Nedbank Cup Final between SuperSport United and Kaizer Chiefs at Moses Mabhida Stadium on May 25, 2013 in Durban, South Africa.  (Dec. 31, 1999 - Source: Gallo Images/Getty Images Europe)

SiphiweTshabalala (L) of the Chiefs runs with the ball during the Nedbank Cup Final between SuperSport United and Kaizer Chiefs at Moses Mabhida Stadium on May 25, 2013 in Durban, South Africa.

(Dec. 31, 1999 - Source: Gallo Images/Getty Images Europe)

Shabba’s style of play was loved by most South African football fanatics, especially the Kaizer Chiefs supporters. His flair and pace on the left wing, coupled with his trickery and ability to shake off a defender in one-on-one situations, made him a nuisance to many defenders. Shabba was more of a short passer and always tried to find spaces between defenders. In his later years at Chiefs, Tshabalala began playing more of a central role where he played just behind the strikers and was the one tasked with creating chances for the Amakhosi forwards. Apart from his crossing ability and his sheer pace, Shabba is widely respected for his dead-ball abilities where he has scored a sizeable number of goals from set-pieces with his deadly left foot.

International dream becomes a reality

The 2018/2019 season didn’t quite kickoff well for Shabba as he wasn’t starting much of the opening games particularly due to the arrival of the new Kaizer Chiefs coach. As such, Shabba’s role had become more of him coming on as an impact player in most games. As such, Shabba was able to get an offer from Turkish outfit Erzurumspor which provided him his long-time dream of playing in Europe. So far, "Ntho tse monate” has started one game with his new team as he is still settling in. Nonetheless, much is expected from Shabba and many believe he has the experience to take the Turkish league by storm. The question on football fanatics minds is that will Shabba succeed, or has his time passed?