HARARE – Khama Billiat juggled the ball to thunderous applause on the turf of a brand new stadium in Harare as he was unveiled by modest Zimbabwean club Yadah FC Thursday, seven months after the skilful attacking midfielder refused to extend his stay at South African giants Kaizer Chiefs.

The 33-year-old Zimbabwean playmaker made a sensational return to his homeland last week after spending nearly 14 mostly successful years in the South African Premiership.

Billiat first arrived in South Africa as a 19-year-old to join Ajax Cape Town before enjoying a fruitful period at Mamelodi Sundowns, with who he won nearly every trophy on offer including the coveted African Champions League.

The former Warriors talisman however had an average five-year stint with Kaizer Chiefs, by his lofty standards, but then the Soweto giants have generally been a pale shadow of their former self for a while now.

Billiat’s refusal to sign a new short contract at Naturena, which came with the condition of a pay cut, has stirred up debate in both countries with critics insisting that the nimble-footed winger might have been misled by his management.

At Yadah, Billiat will earn a monthly salary of US$5 000 (about (R97 000). Although he becomes the highest paid player in the Zimbabwean league by a mile, he still falls far short of what Chiefs would have paid him under a new deal.

Harare club Yadah is owned by Prophet Walter Magaya, a wealthy and popular preacher who owns the Prophetic, Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries, one of Zimbabwe’s biggest churches.

Prophet Walter Magaya hands over a club shirt to Billiat.

The football-loving cleric, who last year built a new stadium for his club at rapid pace, attended the glitzy presentation ceremony on Thursday at his newly-built Heart Stadium.

A sizable crowd cheered fervently as Billiat took to the field alone and showcased the ball skills that that made him a hit both at home and in South Africa.

Billiat has since retired from international football, but the influential Magaya is believed to have persuaded the diminutive maestro to reconsider his decision to enable him to be selected for Zimbabwe’s next batch of World Cup qualifiers in June.

Khama Billiat signs one of his jerseys which were successfully auctioned during the unveiling dinner on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Yadah recovered the US$20 000 they paid as Billiat’s sign-on fee after three shirts of the former Downs and Chiefs ace were auctioned for a total of $25 000 during the unveiling ceremony.

The jerseys were sold during a dinner event at the end of the unveiling ceremony.


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