Waseem Isaacs’ Slovakian segue

Waseem Isaacs is in hot form for Stellenbosch FC in the PSL. But football hasn’t always been this kind to him. The striker has overcome setbacks galore in his career, including one particularly painful experience in Slovakia.
Waseem Isaacs from Stellenbosch FC. , celebrates his goal during the Absa Premiership 2019/20 football match between Bloemfontein Celtic and Stellenbosch FC at DR Molemela Stadium on 15 September 2019 ©Gerhard Steenkamp/BackpagePix

Stellenbosch FC’s Waseem Isaacs has burst onto the scene in 2019-20, scoring four goals in his first four Premiership starts. Although the 28-year-old is a late bloomer, Isaacs has been around the block. He grew up fast when his attempt to leave Slovakia’s MFK Zemplín Michalovce ended in a bitter legal dispute.

Michalovce signed Isaacs from FC Cape Town (now Ubuntu Cape Town) midway through the 2010-11 season. Adjusting to the language and culture in Slovakia was no small task for the devout Muslim from Bonteheuwel.

Those who have watched him in the Premiership this season will know Isaacs as a clinical striker. In Slovakia, however, he played as a right-winger and then at right-back. Although he handled this change well, Isaacs could never quite come to grips with life off the field in Slovakia.

“There was no mosque, no Muslim people around. Culture to me is very important because that’s how I’ve been raised,” Isaacs recalls of his time in Slovakia. In addition, it was difficult to find food that fitted his dietary requirements.

Isaacs was under the impression that he had signed to stay in Slovakia for two years. As his contract ran down, he began planning to move back to Cape Town. Michalovce, however, were not about to let that happen without a fight.

“I had an option [to stay] and they wanted to exercise the option, but I didn’t want to stay and it was a whole dispute and a court case. They wanted me to come back and I didn’t want to come back,” Isaacs recounts.

“At the end of the day, I won the case because my contract wasn’t in English. That was the main thing that gave me the right to just leave. Basically, I didn’t understand what I was signing because I was still 19 or 20 when I signed it.”

Isaacs eventually joined Vasco da Gama in 2013 and went on to play for Milano United, Crystal Palace (ABC Motsepe League) and Cape Town All Stars. He then rejoined FC Cape Town, who later became Ubuntu Cape Town.

Isaacs starred at Ubuntu with 13 goals in the National First Division last season, earning himself a move to Stellenbosch FC.

Stay tuned for more from our exclusive interview with in-form Stellenbosch striker Waseem Isaacs. Part two will be published on Wednesday, 9 October 2019.

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