Former Kaizer Chiefs striker Matthew Rusike is making waves across Europe and the Middle East where he has forged an impressive post-playing career as an agent.
Having previously graced the DStv Premiership with the likes of Kaizer Chiefs, Jomo Cosmos and Cape Town City, Matthew Rusike made his last appearance as a professional footballer for Swedish side Stabæk in December 2019 before hanging up his boots at the age of 29 after suffering a series of serious injuries.
The former Zimbabwe international has since remained heavily involved in the sport following his retirement and has spent the last three years honing his trade as an intermediary, developing in the process a network that now spans multiple continents.
"After I left Cape Town City, I went to Norway where I unfortunately suffered a leg break and was out for a few months. When I came back I played a few games but then suffered an ACL injury. It was during that down time, during my recovery, that I started helping a few players, Rusike tells KICK OFF.
"I played far and wide, I was a bit of a journeyman during my playing days, and that ultimately lead me to have good connections with a lot of people across the world in the footballing circles. So, I helped one or two players make moves, whether that be to the Gulf region, or connecting a player and an agent, or a player and a coach or sports director."
Rusike’s exploits in this arena came to the fore earlier this month when the now 32-year-old assisted in brokering the deal that saw Brazil international midfielder Rafinha complete a permanent transfer from reigning Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain to Qatar Stars League giants Al-Arabi.
"We deal with big players all the time and this case I was familiar with his agent. I met him along the way through doing other deals because I've got my own players, and I'm very well connected in the Middle East, so I managed to help get that deal over the line,” he explained, when asked about his involvement in Rafinha’s move.
"It wasn’t the only deal we’ve done in the Middle East and not every deal do I boast about, but that one I am very proud of."
Rusike, who is based in Stockholm, Sweden, has partnered with Blash Hosseini at BHM Sports Agency who service the likes of Glasgow Celtic defender Carl Starfelt, Hellas Verona’s new €4.7 million (R80 million) signing Isak Hein, and Spezia youngster Aimar Sher, among others, in an impressive clientele list of 40 players across Europe and the Middle East.
"We've also got Elbasan Rashani playing in the French Ligue 1 at Clermont Foot, Frederik Ulvestad at Sivasspor, Aiham Ousou at Slavia Prague and Stian Gregersen at Bordeaux, you know the list goes on when it comes to players playing top level football,” he adds.
“Our philosophy is now to take the best from the Scandinavian countries and move them out into Europe, whether it be Belgium, Holland, France... And then, of course, players get to that stage of their career where they want to go to the Middle East or China, wherever it may be, and we also have the ability to facilitate those kinds of deals."
While Rusike is thriving in his role as an agent, he admits that becoming an intermediary was not something he had always envisaged for himself, albeit a role that his playing career had ultimately prepared him for.
"It’s not at all something I had always imagined myself doing," he continues. "Even when I first started to dabble in it, it's not something that I was hanging my hat on. I maybe had aspirations to go a different way and was even quite adamant that I wasn't going to stay in football, but you have to take the opportunities that present themselves.
"And to be fair, I put 15 years – give or take – to football and toward being a football player and at the end of the day that's what I know the most about. I know football, and the business of football is no different if you take note of what's going on rather than just playing football and thinking that that is the be-all and end all of it.
"It's a very big business at the end of the day and it's about capitalizing on those opportunities."
Story by Liam Bekker.
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