From Robson Sharuko
Harare – English Premiership football club, Brighton and Hove Albion, took a huge gamble when they saved R50 million on highly acclaimed South African attacker Percy Tau on a four year deal this year.
Now the 48-year-old giranda owner of the club, Anthony Grant Bloom, once again takes a huge gamble by sending Tau to Belgium to learn the challenges of European football.
The 24-year-old Tau will have to take the route that the will of Yaya and Kolo Toure has taken before he could take action in the English Premiership after Brighton and Hove Albion chose to send him a season-long loan to Belgium to to adapt to the requirements of European football.
The Bafana Bafana winger was the only South African football player who cracked the English Premiership during the last transfer window when he left South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns to join Brighton and Hove Albion for a four-year contract.
Tau is not hastily dragged into the harsh world of the English Premiership, where the demands are higher than what he was used to at home in South Africa, and he will spend the first of his four years on a Belgian second-rate side belonging to the billionaire owner of his parent association, Anthony Grant Bloom. Brighton Albion officials do not want to repeat the mistake made by their colleagues from the German Bundesliga side TSG Hoffenheim when they spent a 21-year-old Knowledge Musona or Zimbabwe in South Africa for R19.5 million in 2011 , deal over a period of four years and threw him right on the battlefield.
The Zimbabwean striker, who had left Kaizer Chiefs after proving himself the best player in the South African Premiership, soon discovered that there was a huge difference between Supa Diski and the Bundesliga and failed to score in the 16th. matches he played for Hoffenheim.
Musona was then loaned to Augsburg, where he again could not make an impact, because his confidence declined and he did not score in the 14 games he played for them.
The Warriors skipper was then brought back to Kaizer Chiefs when his club tried to restore his self-esteem and after having impressed the Amakhosi in his second spell, he was then sold on the Belgian side KV Oostende.
He flourished at Ostend and this year he moved to an even bigger Belgian club Anderlecht.
Now Brighton and Hove have come up with a plan to help Tau, one of the best talents in recent years in South Africa, and this season he will be on loan for the Belgian second-tier side Royale Union Saint-Gilloise .
The Belgian club is owned by the same billionaire-Englishman Bloom, who also owns Brighton and Hove.
Union Saint-Gilloise was 11 times champion of Belgium with their last title already in 1935 and has also played eight times in the highest division of the country eight times with the last time this happened in 1924.
They have largely been transformed into a club that now concentrates more on the development of players as part of Bloom's vision to strengthen his man's soccer project, Brighton and Hove.
"I am very happy to have this opportunity to invest in a club with such a proud tradition," said the billionaire businessman with a passion for gambling when he acquired the majority of the shares in the club.
"Union SG is part of the history of Belgian football and has had tremendous success in the past and we look forward to a successful future for the club and the fans."
Bloom likes to take his chances, after all he built his fortune as a sports bet and real estate investor, and he was so good that they even gave him the nickname "The Lizard". "I have been a football fan and gambler since I was seven or eight years old, and my interest in both has been developed at the same time," he said when he acquired Brighton.
"Poker gives you a good foundation in many things, such as reading situations and reading people and making difficult decisions, which can be used in business and especially when running a football club."
The website honestbettingreviews.com has played a function at Bloom, under the heading "From Poker Star to Billionaire Gambler", in which they sketch a picture of a man who likes to take his chances.
"He is a secret person who has given very few interviews," said the website. "He said:" I wanted to gamble because I enjoyed it and that's why I had to do well to win. "
"He certainly did that and he helped set up the closed company Starlizard, a huge sports bet that supports his passion for football betting." Starlizard is based in Camden's somewhat unremarkable Iceworks building and is a football betting syndicate that likes to keep it as secret as possible. There is no company logo or logo above the door of the Iceworks; the windows are glazed with reflective glass making it difficult to look at what is happening inside.
"Although there is a website that provides some guidance on what the company is doing and it seems that there are always available functions that can be filled by the right applicants, the company currently has around 160 employees."
The British billionaire has a bet on Percy Tau and hopefully everything will go according to plan.
"Percy is a talent that we have brought to the club for the future, and this loan allows him to play senior football here regularly in Europe," said Brighton's development pathway manager David Weir told the website of the English club.
"It is a significant investment for us, and we will closely monitor its progress with Union and follow its development throughout the season."
The manager of Brighton, Chris Hughton, had hinted that Tau will not be overpowered in his first season in Europe in the tough British premiership, fearing that this could expose him and destroy his confidence.
"Percy will be on loan this season, play regularly and gain some experience with European football," he said. "We will monitor his progress and follow his development throughout the season."
It is a route that was previously taken by others.
Yaya Toure, one of the best African players of all time, started his European adventure in 2001 in the modest club Beveren, where he made 70 gigs and scored three goals.
He quickly played for Greek side Olympiacos before moving to Barcelona, where he twice won the title of the La Liga and also the UEFA Champions League.
Toure transformed himself into a legend of the city of Manchester during his spell in the club, where he won three English Premiership titles, played 203 games and scored 59 goals.