BY FORTUNE MBELE
Barely a month after his big break into Europe with Turkish Süper Lig side Yeni Malatyaspor, Warriors defender Teenage Hadebe has revealed his desire to use his recent move as a springboard to the big European leagues.
Inspired by his friend and Warriors teammate Marvelous Nakamba’s big money move to the English Premier League (EPL) with Aston Villa, Hadebe is looking to hit the ground running in Turkey by winning trophies before progressing to the top European leagues.
“I want to win something for this club that has so much faith in me and want to use this opportunity as a stepping stone. “In my second year my wish is to move to other leagues like France or Germany,” Hadebe told Standardsport in an exclusive interview from his Turkish base
“If I can make it into the EPL it would be even better for me. Marve (Nakamba) inspires me. He always urges me never to give up, but to always push hard and my dream will one day come true,” he added.
A few days after completing his move to Turkey from South African side Kaizer Chiefs, Hadebe was already in Malatyaspor’s starting line-up for their Uefa Europa League second round qualifier against Slovenian side Olimpija NK two weeks ago, but he missed the return leg last week after picking an ankle injury.
And on this night, the tough- tackling Warriors defender wished his mum was in Turkey to watch him play in the second-tier European club competition.
On Thursday night Hadebe was an unused substitute when his side lost 3-1 to Serbian side Partizan Belgrade in the first leg encounter of the competition’s third qualifying round.
Despite the minor injury, Hadebe seems to have settled well in Turkey and is looking to use the opportunity as a springboard to the bigger European leagues.
“It was a dream come true for me moving to Europe and I am very happy. When I was handed a start in our first game in the Europa League I wished my mother was around to watch me play in that game,” he said.
“I settled in well in Turkey and immediately became the fans’ favourite. I am sure these guys saw me at Afcon and they made my adjustment here easy. Everything is great here just that the tempo and intensity of the game is high, but I am getting used to it
“All has been good here, great team, great coach and colleagues. The only challenge so far has been the language, “I have to move around with a translator, but everything is just professional.”
Hadebe’s move to Turkey came as a big surprise as there had been speculation in the South Africa media that he was one of the players to be offloaded by Kaizer Chiefs as they had exhausted their foreign quota.
“I was surprised to read in newspapers and on social media that Kaizer Chiefs wanted to release me. It was actually a blessing in disguise for me as I knew something big was coming and I kept my cool. Kaizer Chiefs did not want to let go of me; instead, they were not going to release me,” he said.
Hadebe believes his individual performances for the Warriors at the Afcon finals in Egypt played an important role in making his move to Turkey.
“We played well against Egypt even though we lost and we also had a good game against Uganda. I guess the Turkish guys who had been following my game were impressed by me at Afcon. And then we lost to the DRC, I don’t know how we lost that game, but it happens in football,” Hadebe said.
Hadebe is a product of Bantu Rovers, the brainchild of Methembe Ndlovu, whose academy merged with former Zifa Southern Region Division One side Zim Leopards in April to establish Bantu Leopards, whose main objective is to identify, nurture and develop talented young players.