ENGLAND - Bafana Bafana midfielder Elrio van Heerden has finally realised his dream of playing in England after securing a contract with Premiership side Blackburn Rovers.
Van Heerden, who is in camp with Bafana Bafana for the Confederations Cup, joined Rovers from Club Brugge in Belgium on a free transfer.
Rovers manager Sam Allardyce has voiced confidence that Van Heerden can make an impact on the Premier League.
Van Heerden has been given a two-year contract at Ewood Park and Allardyce has great hopes for the 25-year-old, provided he can cope with the physical demands of English football.
"We need to build him up as he is not the biggest of lads, then I am sure he will make an impact as the season progresses," said Allardyce yesterday.
"We have signed a very talented young man. He is a great addition to the squad."
Van Heerden has been recruited to help plug gaps created by the departure of his compatriot Aaron Mokoena for Portsmouth and the retirement of Turkey's Tugay Kerimoglu.
He will play alongside compatriot and controversial forward Benni McCarthy. McCarthy, Van Heerden and Mokoena are managed by a South African businessman Rob Moore, who is now based in Spain.
Also under Moore's wing is Steven Pienaar who is doing duty for Everton in England.
Van Heerden has been playing in Europe for almost six years after joining Copenhagen in Denmark where he became an instant hit.
The Port Elizabeth-born Van Heerden has featured for all the South African national teams in Majimbos, Amajita and the Under-23s.
Van Heerden is one of the top players who will carry South Africa's hopes at the Confederations Cup from June 14. - Sapa/AFP, additional reporting by Ramatsiyi Moholoa