Former Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala is hoping for a last crack in the elite football ranks before he considers hanging up his boots.
The 35-year-old has not found a new home since his return from a season-long stint with Turkish club BB Erzurumspor, who were subsequently relegated last term.
“I haven’t called it quits. It’s a personal decision that I took after coming back from Turkey. When the time is right, I’ll definitely make an announcement with regards to my future,” said Tshabalala on the sidelines of Chiefs’s 50th anniversary celebration event in Phefeni, Soweto on Tuesday.
“I’m still very much in the game. I’ve been getting tons of messages from people who want me back. I’ll give people what they want and do it with integrity and it will be my way of saying thanks for the support.”
Asked whether he had taken a break or simply finding it difficult to find a club, Tshabalala said: “We didn’t agree with the management of Erzurumspor with regards to contractual chats. I was not happy and you cannot stay in an environment when you’re not happy so I took a decision to terminate and leave. With regards to offers, I had offers abroad and I still have offers today but I told myself that when I am I’m ready, then I’ll be back on the field.”
Shabba, as the midfielder is known, said it was an honour to have earned a contract overseas, a move that materialised despite his advanced age.
The 35-year-old signed for Erzurumspor in August 2018.
“It was an honour to play for the club, Erzurumspor. I’ve ticked the boxes. Obviously, it was not easy in a sense that you’re in a different environment but I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity. It’s a very competitive league with big teams and quality players. They’ve also recruited some of the best from Africa and top leagues from Europe as well.
“So it was a great feeling to play against Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, Kasimpasa...,” said Tshabalala, who made 17 league appearances and scored one goal for Erzurumspor.
Shabba also paid homage to Chiefs, while he wished his former club well during their golden jubilee.
“It’s a big milestone for the club and I’m grateful that I was part of the movement and I contributed.
“It [Chiefs] changed my life because it has always been a dream to play for the club. And once you play for the club, you realise this is not just a club [or] not just about the 90 minutes on the field, you become a role model, a public figure and an ambassador to the club and football as well.”
Tshabalala said Chiefs will always be his home.
“One way or the other, I’m gonna come back and be part of the club. Whether playing or not, I’ll come back.”
He said being idle for now has afforded him the opportunity to reflect, particularly on his journey, as well as his stay in Turkey.
“And also to appreciate the platform, the blessings and to spend time with the family and my other interests in business. Coming back is to do what I love and inspire the young ones. I can’t wait to be back.”
The last time Chiefs won the title in 2015, the left-footed midfielder was among the senior players that played a pivotal role in clinching the league, and Tshabalala said he was optimistic of the team’s chances this season.
“It’s a big year for the club and something has to give.”