A European odyssey is in order for a household name in the ranks at Wits as former player Waylan Rooi secures a pro deal with Spanish club CD Almuñecar City.
Rooi, a devastating left wing who spent a season at the Nike Academy in England and with Kaizer Chiefs Under-23s, is primed to fulfil a life-long footballing dream as he prepares to bid adieu to Wits.
The 23-year-old captured the imagination of talent scouts and players alike from early on, winning Nike’s The Chance South Africa competition as a fresh-faced youth in 2014. A few years on and he would produce wittiness, charisma and flare en route to becoming an integral part of the cog at Wits over several seasons.
He will now jet off to join CD Almuñecar City in a chance which will likely see him infuse the same level of speed and Kasi (township) flavour into the Spanish style of play, according to Wits FC coach and, one who has observed Rooi’s talent over a span of many years, Alzavian van Rheede.
“I think CD will get a player that is finally where he wants to be; who is now a happier human being,” said van Rheede. “His speed and skills are among the best I’ve seen from a South African player and he has a well-educated left foot that has been designed for football. But most of all, CD will get a Waylon Rooi who is a natural-born winner and an amazing human being.”
Speaking on the opportunity to come, Rooi said he had a feeling that things were about to come to a head on a chance of a lifetime, and since fate has complied, the mercurial winger has his sights on shining fervently bright. “This is an important step forward for me and I am positive that everything I will learn in the next year is going to add to my character and help me overcome whatever is up ahead,” said Rooi.
“At this moment, I am really looking forward to playing with my new teammates, learning [a new] language, creating memories and, of course, winning. Wits was and still is my family – where I learnt the importance of mental strength and, if anything, it is something I will continually hold close to me,” added Rooi.
From a Wits Football perspective, and the coach in particular, the summer of Rooi’s career in the form of an international stint, is long past its due arrival.
“I’m not surprised Waylon has signed for a club in Europe. What I am surprised at is that it’s happened so late into his football career,” said van Rheede.
“I knew Waylan since he was 12-years-old and playing for Wits Juniors. He was an amazing talent at the time and far ahead of many players. He had the speed of a 15-year-old, skill and the game intelligence of an 18-year-old. I honestly thought he would be in the Bafana national team at 18 or 20 but this is football in our country, where lots of top talent fall through the cracks, and it doesn’t make sense that our system can’t pick a player up like Waylan Rooi yet Spain [came] calling,” he concluded.
PROFILE Waylan Rooi
Full name: Waylan Rooi
Born: 24/1/1997 in Johannesburg
Varsity Football career: 2018 – Wits
Studying: BA Fine Arts
By Tshepiso Mametela/Wits Sport Media