Banyana Banyana vice captain Refiloe Jane says she had to be patient for her move to Italy to materialise.
Fifinho, as she is known to her football fans, is now on the books of AC Milan where she has already played two games for them – a pre-season friendly and a league match.
“It’s been a long journey and I am glad it has finally happened. It goes to show that patience pays. The faith and belief I have in the Almighty has also helped me a great deal – when offers were placed on the table I could have signed early on but I remained patient and waited for the right offer,” said Jane from Milan.
“I believe it was worth the wait, and I am now in a happy space.”
Jane, a former Vaal University of Technology and Tshwane University of Technology (both South Africa) player, has become the first ever woman player to feature in the Italian league.
She follows in the footsteps of former Bafana Bafana stars David Nyathi (Cagliary: 1998 – 1999), Siyabonga Nomvethe (Udinese: 2001-2002, 2003-2004), Mark Fish (Lazio: 1996-1997), Eric Tinkler (Cagliary: 1997-1997) and Phil Masinga (Bari: 1997-2001).
“It’s an honour and privilidge that shouldn’t be taken for granted. These players made a mark in Italy and were stalwarts in the Bafana Bafana squad and we should not forget that – that said, this is also an opportunity to showcase my talent and what South African women’s football has to offer. This is a chance to open doors for other female players on the African continent, and in particular, South Africa,” added Jane.
The midfielder wasted no time in being drafted into the starting eleven after arriving in Milan, with just one training session under her belt.
She played in a pre-season friendly against Napoli where they won 5-0 with her coach Maurizio Ganz singing her praises after her performance.
It was no surprise when she also started in the first league match against AS Roma, helping her side to a 3-0 victory.
“I was very excited when they told me I would start – I did not expect it but I was ready for whatever was coming my way. What made things was the way my new teammates welcomed me. It was clear when I met them that everyone couldn’t wait for me to arrive. They embraced me with open arms and it felt like home, and I had to show my qualities on the field. The coach’s words after the match that I was what they were looking for made me feel proud, and I was glad that I joined this massive club. Now I have to keep the consistency because they have some good players that will keep me on my toes but I love that kind of challenge as it makes me work harder,” said an excited Jane.
She has been deployed just in front of the defence in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
“It is a different system that we are playing, and it is still early days but so far I am enjoying my role – which is not too far from what I am accustomed to.”
A few days before the start of the new Seria A season, Jane was part of the official presentation of the Women’s First Team in the main hall of the Banco BMP Headquarters in Piazza Meda in Milan.
The players took to the stage one by one before posing for a group photo.
The event was attended by club President Paolo Scaroni who wanted to show his support for the Women’s Team.
Also present were former club greats, Franco Baresi and Daniele.
Some of the greats that played for the Rossoneri over the years include:
Franco Baresi, Mauro Tassotti, Fillipo Galli, Ray Wilkins, Paolo Maldini, Cesare Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Daniele Massaro, Carlo Ancelotti, Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Marcel Desailly, George Weah, Massimo Ambrosini, Oliver Bierhoff, Andriy Shevchenko, Gennaro Gattuso, Fillipo Inzaghi, Andrea Pirlo, Alessandro Nesta, Clarence Seedorf, Cafu, Kaka, Gianluca Zambrota,
Jane becomes the second player to make the move an overseas move after the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in June – the other is captain Janine van Wyk, who has signed for Fortuna Hjorring in Denmark. The latter is expected to leave South Africa this week to join her new teammates.