How Zuma and Dladla paved the way for Gift Links in Denmark

Kaizer Chiefs legends Josta Dladla and Jabu Mahlangu talking about MTN8 semifinals.
Kaizer Chiefs legends Josta Dladla and Jabu Mahlangu talking about MTN8 semifinals.
Image: Masi Losi

Just like Sibusiso Zuma paved the way for Josta Dladla in Denmark‚ Dladla believes he and Zuma have smoothed the path for Gift Links to be successful at new club Aarhus GF.

Skilful 20-year-old winger Links signed for Denmark’s second-biggest club – where Dladla also played with some success in three seasons from 2002 to 2004 – from Cape Town City just before the of the August 31 close of the transfer window.

He made his debut on Sunday as an 82nd-minute substitute in AGF’s 3-0 win at their Ceres Park home ground against Aalborg.

Links follows in the footsteps in Denmark of the most famous South African export there‚ Sibusiso Zuma‚ who became a folk hero at FC Copenhagen in the early 2000s.

Dladla said Links – who also bravely had a half-a-season in Egypt’s tough Premier League as a 19-year-old for Pyramids FC – has the right mindset to make it in Europe.

“It’s a good move for him. For me‚ it’s all about if he goes out there and uses his strength‚” Dladla told SowetanLIVE.

“His strength is quickness‚ running off players. He’s an off- the-ball player‚ a winger.

“And now he’s going to a country where you get a 19-year-old who is two metres tall and weighs 90 kilograms. And Gift is small. So‚ for me it’s about is he going to keep his identity?

“We’ve opened doors for him in Denmark. Zuma opened doors for me. I got there and I did the job.

“That’s why he’s there – because of what I did. Now it’s up to him to engrave his name onto that AGF jersey as well.

“So that people‚ when he leaves‚ after five year will still say‚ ‘We used to have this South African player who did this’.

“It’s all about the mentality. And Aarhus is a nice place. It’s the second-biggest city after Copenhagen and a nice town to live in.

“Everybody there supports Aarhus. And I know they are going to support him. But it’s all up to him if he wants it or not.”

Dladla said Links will have to adjust to the pace of life in staid Aarhus‚ population 1.4 million‚ and work regime of players who arrive at training two hours early‚ and go home and rest immediately after.

If he can do that‚ the ex-Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs winger said‚ Links can use Denmark as a stepping stone to bigger leagues.

“It’s a good shop window. You can go to France or Germany from there‚” Dladla said.

“Like me‚ I shouldn’t have chosen to come home‚ but I was homesick. I shouldn’t have done that.

“So I hope he’s not going to take those decisions.

“It’s not that big of a city‚ and coming from somewhere like Joburg you can get sick of it.

“I was 24‚ 25 when I came back. Sundowns bought me out of my contract‚ but the moment I was back home I was like‚ ‘What did I just do?’

“But for him‚ the first‚ two or three seasons‚ let him use that as a paveway to other countries – which I should have done.”

AGF are in fourth place in the Danish Superliga‚ with four wins‚ two draws and three defeats from nine matches.