sheppy joins bahumi

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

Mamelodi Sundowns winger Dillon Sheppard's decision to join Platinum Stars in six months' time was clinched by the five-year contract Stars offered him.

A club insider said the playerwas initially offered a year-long extension to his contract by Sundowns, a deal he opted to turn down.

North West side Stars with chairman George Khunou at the forefront, offered Sheppard a package that will take care of him beyond his football-playing years.

Sheppard will assume a role in the club's structures where his skills will be u sed after he retires from playing, his agent Francesco Ferreri said.

The 30-year-old player declined to comment on the reasons why his negotiations with Downs stalled, but said that at his age the offer from Stars was exceedingly generous.

This ends weeks of speculation on Sheppard's future since joining Downs in 2006.

And as one more influential Downs player walks out - Lerato Chabangu and Josta Dladla are also leaving Chloorkop in June - the Brazilians look to be in a state of turmoil at the moment.

"I am still a Sundowns player until the end of the season and that means I have an obligation to do my best for them, like I have been doing all along," Sheppard said.

"The decision to leave was very difficult and emotional, but I had to think about the wellbeing of my family."

Having battled through several career-threatening injuries, he said: "In the past four weeks or so I have rediscovered the reason I play football.

"Sundowns has been family to me. I've truly enjoyed my time with them and I leave without any complaints."

Khunou said he looked forward to having a player of Sheppard's calibre contributing to the vision the Tycoons have.

Downs reacted with regret to Sheppard's leaving, with spokesman Mahlatse Mphahlele reiterating that the club never wanted to lose him.

"We can only thank him for the contribution he has made to the club in the years that he has been with us," he said.