TLOU "SOX" SEGOLELA is the man of the moment. The all-conquering two-goal Bafana hero against Lesotho on Sunday, despite the wind, the mountains and the plastic pitch. And then we have the "Maradona" goal from "South Africa's Usain Bolt" against Free State Stars in 2011 - plus a few othes featured in the videos I've posted above and below.
Used mostly as an "impact" substitute by Orlando Pirates coaches since his move to the Buccaneers in 2007 (he also went on loan to Bloemfontein Celtic in 2009) there was talk earlier this month of a move to Soweto rivals with some debate over the two-year contract he signed last year NOT being extended to the end of June 2014.
But with those two goals in Maseru on Sunday - the first a tap-in, the second a lovely turn-and-fire - the high-speed "Gautrain" has suddenly become a valuable property with those live images on SuperSport and the SABC making him the man of the moment.
But there is a limit to footballing hype. I don't deny Segolela certainly deserves a water-tight deal for next season, something technical director Screamer Tshabalala and holidaying coach Roger De Sa should chat to chairman Irvin Khoza about URGENTLY.
Failing that, a move to double-winning Chiefs would certainly bolster the 25-year-old Limpopan (?) in his bid for a regular PSL starting place after playing just 45 games for Pirates in five seasons.
But his agent Tim Sukuzi is aiming perhaps a little too high after the Bafana brace. Yesterday he was on Radio 2000 insisting he had "an invitation from a big Championship club in England" in front of him.
Sukuzi, not inexperienced in player management, said: "Yes, Tlou has got options but we are only talking to overseas clubs, and I can confirm that he has been invited for trials with a Championship club in England. I can’t tell you which one."
Sukazi went as far as to dismiss the mighty AmaKhosi, adding: “He is not joining Chiefs. As I said, we are not dealing with the local clubs. I know that a few PSL clubs are interested, but we are looking to get him overseas. That is the priority.”
Within minutes of his appearance on radio, my phone was ringing red hot. No, it wasn’t Barcelona and Bayern Munich on the line wanting a ticket to the “Gautrain”, this was the insistent ring of South Africa football experts asking: “Is he serious?”
And of course, Tim, you can’t be. In order to gain work permit in the United Kingdom, professional footballers have to play 75 percent of their nation’s FIFA qualifying games over the last two years. And that team has to be in FIFA's top 70 (on average) throughout that period (preceding the date of the transfer).
That isn’t the Football Association’s restriction, it’s a device put in place by the Home Office to give local players a better chance of emerging from the bulging academies around the island. The other European nations have no such limits in place.
Segolela – who made his fifth international appearance against Lesotho - has only just returned to the Bafana fold, and had yet to feature in Gordon Igesund’s plans before this month. And Maseru was just a friendly. It doesn’t count. Without a single African Cup of Nations or World Cup chance so far, Segolela has a long way to go to reach the Home Office standard.
I'm afraid 24 months is a lifetime in football.
Sukazi insisted on Radio2000 his player could get “special dispensation” to gain a work permit but that hasn’t happened for three years. The last player to go to England without having played the stipulated 75 percent over two years (sitting on the bench doesn’t count, you have to come on) was a certain Little Pea.
Mexico’s Javier Hernandez was allowed to go to Manchester United after just five games for his nation – but he was still a teenager and starred in the World Cup in South Africa. Before that, players like Cesc Fabregas and Mathieu Flamini at Arsenal were allowed to join Arsenal academies only because they were under sixteen.
Segolela will get no special dispensation. To suggest he might is unfair to both the player and to South Africa fans.
Even players who DO fit the criteria in recent years – like Andile Jali, Teko Modise, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Itumeleng Khune – have shown far more consistent quality and failed to make it beyond trials or tabloid gossip.
The truth is, Segolela WAS impressive against Lesotho. He does deserve to have his questionable final year at Pirates confirmed – or he should be allowed to leave on a free for a rival club.
But to suggest, on the basis of two goals against the side ranked 155 in the world, that he is now destined for international stardom is simply laughable.
Segolela can make a start against the Central African Republic in Cameroon on Saturday - and a week later against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa if Igesund picks him for the do-or-die World Cup qualifiers.
But surely, the wise thing is to find him a starting role in the PSL before reaching for pie on the Sky channels?