Zimbabwe international Khama Billiat’s decision to leave Mamelodi Sundowns sent tongues wagging around the country as all the big teams kept tabs on his future.
The accomplished forward ended his five-year stay with the reigning Premier Soccer League (PSL) champions after deciding against renewing his contract with the Tshwane club.
During his stint with the Brazilians, Billiat won seven major trophies, including three league titles, and he also clinched the 2015/16 PSL Player of the Season accolade among other individual accolades.
Top PSL sides such as Bidvest Wits, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates were all linked with Billiat, while clubs in Egypt, Azerbaijan, Belgium, and Russia were said to be interested in the attacker.
Locally, Soweto giants Chiefs and Pirates asserted themselves as strong favourites for Billiat’s signature as they looked to beef up their attacking departments.
However, they faced stiff competition from an unnamed club Turkish League Two side and Egyptian Premier League giants Zamalek.
The two clubs are known to have submitted concrete offers for the former Ajax Cape Town playmaker, who was nurtured in the Aces Youth Soccer Academy.
Pirates assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena worked with Billiat at Sundowns and he knew that the talented player could be the tonic the Buccaneers needed in order to end the their four-year trophy drought.
On the other end, Chiefs were in need of a marquee signing, who would help transform the club into genuine PSL title contenders heading into the new campaign.
South Africa’s biggest football clubs were ready meet Billiat’s demands in order to keep him in the country with European clubs lurking around and offering the player an opportunity to further his career abroad.
Billiat rejected offers from teams in Turkey and Egypt, and he opted to join Chiefs on a three-year contract with an option to renew for a further year.
Amakhosi went all out to ensure that they reinforced their squad with arguably the best player in the country, as Pirates’ interest in the player cooled off having made an offer for the player.
Billiat’s countryman and former Zimbabwe team-mate, Willard Katsande played an important role in helping Chiefs get their man.
Katsande facilitated a meeting between Amakhosi’s football manager, Bobby Motaung and Billiat’s parents in Zimbabwe.
The Chiefs official managed to convince the familly into believing that the four-time PSL champions were the right club for Billiat.
Billiat’s heart was then set on joining Amakhosi, who wrapped up the deal in June 2018.
While Rulani Mokwena said earlier this week that Pirates didn’t miss out on Billiat but opted to pull out of the deal, Motaung’s meeting with the player’s parents was a sucker punch which led to the Sea Robbers missing out on their long-term target.
Motaung also revealed soon after wrapping up the deal that Chiefs stopped Billiat on a flight to an Arab country. This can only mean one thing – that the Naturena-based side had to break the bank to acquire the signature of the 28-year-old, who is among the highest paid players in the league.