Nkomo, who is regarded as the continent’s top football agent, is Portsmouth’s chief scout in Africa, who counts a galaxy of stars on his player management company, Ralph Sports International’s client list.
Some of the top African players he has represented include Benjani Mwaruwari, Nigerian stars Nwankwo Kanu and John Utaka, Stéphane Sessègnon of Benin, as well as Algerian international Nadir Belhadj.
Tottenham Spurs’ France defender Younès Kaboul, Belgian goalkeeper Glenn Verbauwhede and Germany’s Kevin Pezzoni are some of the European players under Nkomo’s management. He however co-manages some of the players with European agents.
Nkomo, who manages local players such as Nyasha Mushekwi and Onismor Bhasera, is in the process of brokering a deal for Wits University midfielder Lehlogonolo Masalesa to move to Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon.
Gentlemanly enough, Nkomo admitted that he has represented less Zimbabwean footballers than foreigners.
“I have facilitated moves for many premiership players in England and a few in France and Belgium. After the Benjani testimonial game, I was surprised by the talent. I saw some interesting players in our national team, therefore I promise to pay more attention to my country,” Nkomo said.
“I just need to concentrate more on Zimbabwean players and get them to Europe’s top leagues through better networking with local agents and scouts.
“I have a couple of friends; Enock Jokomo, Gibson Mahachi and sometimes Edzai Kasinauyo, who talk about good local players. From my South Africa office I have (Edelbert) Dinha who scouts and signs players for me. You see, former players are the best scouts as they have the know-how and technical aptitude on players.”
Drawing from his vast experience in player management, Nkomo offered advice on how to export local players to Europe.
“I think we need to expose our players to bigger leagues through cooperation between team owners and local agents and also get scouts to come watch local matches. But the networking seems to end in South Africa, as all our best players end up there, which is really a shame.
“A player stays in South Africa for more than two seasons when he is already in his mid-20s. He becomes an unattractive proposition for a big club, as his sell by date is gone.”
“The resistance from club owners in South Africa to release players abroad or asking for unreasonable amounts is also a big hindrance in our bid to have more players overseas.”
According to Nkomo, Zimbabwean players fall short because European clubs usually opt for hugely-built players, hence their first preference on West Africans.
“Our local players do need to beef up as they tend to be much smaller physically. I think they should work much harder in the gyms and add muscle, as they are quite athletic already,” he said.
Soon after Mwaruwari’s testimonial match, Nkomo, who assisted Jomo Sono as (a co-) coach of Friends of Benjani, flew to South Africa to watch the Eight-Nations Under-20 International Tournament in Cape Town, where he joined other agents and scouts from around the globe on a talent-hunting mission.
The tournament included countries like Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria.
“I am full time in football and I watch as many games as possible. The knowledge you acquire helps you to know the potential of a young player. You cannot afford to make many mistakes if you have that vast knowledge,” he said.
But the world of player management has its fair share of snares and pits, which Nkomo has managed to overcome. “The biggest challenge as an agent is back-stabbing, lies and you need to develop athick skin and keep your head low. The world of European football has very powerful people who will stop at nothing to either steal your player or stop your deal,” Nkomo said.
Nkomo: vastly networked football agent
The Paris-based agent is consulting for an unnamed Spanish football giant which intends to set up an academy in South Africa.
He is also working with Kasinauyo, Dinha and Jokomo on establishing football consultancy offices in Zimbabwe, where players would be advised on relocation and lifestyle management.
Another football consultancy company, LUX World, last year invited Nkomo to work with them on football and immigration related projects.
LUX’s clients include former Senegalese international El Hadji Diouf, whom they helped settle in the UK. Nkomo’s work includes negotiating contracts, player image rights, commercial sponsorships, career advice, lifestyle and wealth management.