Why some Europeans decide to flock to PSL

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Slovakian international striker Pavol Safranko was among the four newly-signed players by DStv Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns on Friday.
Slovakian international striker Pavol Safranko was among the four newly-signed players by DStv Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns on Friday.
Image: TWITTER/Mamelodi Sundowns

While it’s every SA player's dream to play in Europe, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) has also proven to be an enchanting destination for a number of Europeans in recent times.

As things stand, Mamelodi Sundowns' new Slovakian striker striker Pavol Safranko will be the third European player in the PSL in the new season, joining Serbian striker Samir Nurkovic at Kaizer Chiefs and German goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt at Maritzburg United.

Witnessing the Europeans gracing the PSL, while our own players aspire to go the opposite direction, is an interesting situation. Dajan Šimac, a German-born Croatian agent who represents Nurkovic, has given the lowdown on why some of the players from Europe opt to come to Mzansi.

“Sometimes it’s hard to convince players to come to the PSL. Unfortunately, a big part of them knows nothing about African football and specifically nothing about SA. To be honest, I didn’t know [about SA football] as well at the beginning,” Šimac told Sowetan.

“I understand that players from SA want to move to Europe and to prove themselves. But they also have to understand that in Europe you have leagues that are on a lower level than PSL. It always depends in which country you wanna move to, hence we see some Europeans come to SA. They come here because other European leagues are below the PSL's standard in terms of competitiveness and maybe even incentives.”

The 29-year-old Nurkovic, who has established himself as one of the feared strikers in the country since linking up with Amakhosi from Slovak second-tier side Komarno, is the first player Šimac brought to SA. Earlier this year, Šimac helped Nurkovic’s compatriot Dusan Stevic join Maritzburg, however things didn’t go well as the 25-year-old has since left the Team of Choice.

“I got Samir a few months before we made [the] transfer to Chiefs. In his case I wanted to try something total new in his career. He saw the move as a new start. Samir immediately agreed. He was the first and only player I didn’t have to convince,” said Šimac.

Five successful Europeans in recent PSL history

Alje Schut (Netherlands): Mamelodi Sundowns; 2012-2015

Roland Putsche (Austria): Cape Town City; 2016-2020

James Keen (UK): Bidvest Wits and SuperSport; 2016-2019

Anssi Jaakkola (Finland): Ajax Cape Town; 2013-2016

Giorgi Nergadze (Georgia): Moroka Swallows and Bidvest Wits; 2010-2015

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