Serero has much to prove at Vitesse after humiliation at Ajax

23 June 2017 - 12:06 By Mark Gleeson
Thulani Serero. File photo
Thulani Serero. File photo
Image: Carl Fourie

Thulani Serero’s long and miserable exile will come to an end on Sunday when he reports to Vitesse Arnhem for the first time for preseason training as he seeks to put behind him a campaign without any club football and revive his reputation.

The 27-year-old from Soweto was coldly sidelined and humiliatingly treated at Ajax Amsterdam last season‚ whose coach Peter Bosz did not want him in his squad when he took over last August. Serero was left to sit out an entire season while still under contract and not prepared to move for less money.

But with his six-year spell at Ajax now at an end‚ Vitesse were quickest to snap him up and he stays in the Dutch league with a point to prove. The club has assigned him the No. 17 jersey; the number of one of South Africa’s greatest footballing exports Benni McCarthy.

Serero has had a torrid spell over the last 12 months‚ culminating in being recently dropped by Bafana Bafana‚ but told the Dutch media: “I cannot be mentally broken.”

Ajax made him train with the reserves but only picked him for a handful of matches for the second side‚ who compete in the Dutch second division. He was only used when they had injury problems.

Serero was humiliated further by‚ despite having previously won three league championships with Ajax‚ no longer being allowed to park inside the Ajax training centre or eat his meals in the players’ lounge‚ which are privileges reserved for first team squad members.

“I could have gone home and sat and cried but I chose for the other option: holding my head up high and keeping a positive attitude. That was my goal for the season‚ plus playing well for the national team.

“I’m a strong person and I don’t allow myself to be pressurised‚” he said after Ajax had tried to offload him in the transfer window to Apoel Nicosia in Cyprus but only told Serero just hours before the transfer deadline.

Not being told about the deal‚ and knowing nothing about Cypriot football‚ Serero refused‚ standing his ground and refusing to be treated like a commodity.

“I can look at myself in the mirror because I have always been good to everyone at Ajax and always gave my best. The worst for me was not being allowed to play. It has pained me‚” he said.