Having began his career on the streets of Swakopmund at the tender age of five, the sky was the limit for Razundara Tjikuzu who was once the highest paid Namibia sportsperson, with a monthly income of up to N$1m.
He was the first Namibian to play in the German Bundesliga. Today, Tjikuzu is not the same. There are no more fancy hotels, nor chauffeurs. The 70 000 fans who would pay to watch him play in stadiums have been replaced by 700 at the Sam Nujoma Stadium. Even the media that he once had sleepless nights avoiding, do not seem to notice him anymore.
At 33, Razy [as most fans call him] celebrates 16 years since he left for Europe as a teenager and vows to play until he is in his 40s like the great Paolo Maldini, Ryan Giggs and Roger Milla.
Tjikuzu remembers his debut like yesterday when he walked through the mighty gates of Wender Bremen as a 16-year-old in 1998; “It was against Stuttgart, Bradley Carnel was the only South African in that team. Current German and Bayern Munich captain was also making his debut. I was amongst great players like Marko Bada, Dieter Eilts, Bruno Labbadia, Frank Rost and many more. It was the game of my life.”
It had to be for a teenager who had just been spotted by former U/20 coaches, Eric Muinjo and Peter Uberjahn as a boy.
“I was 13 years old when I got my first call-up for the U/20. I had missed a tournament in South Africa, so I opted to feature for the U/17, that’s when a scout spotted me amongst great players like Silvester “Lollo” Goraseb, Johannes “Congo” Hindjou, Ricardo Mannetti and many others.” he recalls.
Tjikuzu had to convince his parents to allow him to go to Germany. He would win the DFB-Pokal Cup in 1999 and the Bundesliga title before joining Hansa Rostock on a three-year deal in 2003.
To date, Tjikuzu is still very conversant in German having spent most of his life in Germany and Europe. However, he could not last with Hansa Rostock due to hostile media and thus moved to MSV Duisburg on a seasonal contract in 2005 for a year before going to Turkey for a new challenge.
“I soon signed a three-year deal with Çaykur Rizespor with the option of leaving if any bigger club sought after me. After four months, my mom passed away and my life took a different turn. I returned to Germany to clear up my mind and decide on my next move,” he narrates, adding, for two months, he did not play soccer, even though his previous club begged him to return to it and that it would increase his salary.
“I could not. I was too immersed in grief over my late mom, especially since I had spent most of my life in Europe without her. The idea of family hit me.”
He would terminate his contract for a N$7m offer at the İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor in Turkey. After a season, he left to join Trabzonspor because it played in the UEFA Champions League. “My time at Trabzon was the worst moment of my career. That’s when I lost lots of money on lawyers, managers and agents.”
After losing his fortune, the footballer signed with another Turkish side, Diyarbakirspor, in 2010 but here, he only spent a few months before finally ending his journey in Turkey at Kasımpaşa S.K.
For a redeemed person, Tjikuzu admits to overspending and losing money to opportunists but insists he is still not broke. At one time, he had to force open a StreetHouse at 3am to buy shoes for his Namibian football friends; Congo, Lolo, et al.
He now plays for African Stars here at home, occasionally walks to the stadium and runs out of airtime but only possesses one thing—his talent. Even young footballers salute to the fact that he is a born footballer who makes the game appear easy.
“FIFA is currently busy working on getting me what’s due to me from Trabzonspor because my contract with the club only ended sometime this year but it has not paid me out since I left. Kasımpaşa S.K. also owes me a lot of money. So no, I am not broke. I can still buy a car in cash in any currency,” Tjikuzu concludes.