Nomvethe got his big break when he joined African Wanderers in 1997 as a teenager and he helped the club secure promotion to the Premier Soccer League (PSL). Born in KwaZulu-Natal, Nomvethe began his football career at lower division clubs, Sabathia FC, Durban Cosmos and Claremont Blizzards.
His exploits at Abaqulusi during the 1997/98 campaign attracted interest from some of the biggest football clubs in the country and it was Kaizer Chiefs, who won the race for his signature.
In 2001, Italian Serie A side Udinese signed Nomvethe from Chiefs. However, after two unsuccessful years with the club, he was loaned out to smaller Italian clubs Salernitana Calcio and Empoli FC from January 2004 to June 2005.
Nomvethe had become a journeyman as he was also loaned out to Swedish side Djurgårdens in 2005, before moving to Danish side Aalborg BK in 2006 after a short spell with Chiefs’ arch-rivals Orlando Pirates in the PSL.
In 2009, ‘Bhele’ returned home after signing for Moroka Swallows, only to move to AmaZulu three years ago.
Nomvethe made his debut for South Africa against Trinidad and Tobago in an international friendly in 1999, before playing for the country at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia where he scored against Brazil and Japan.
Bhele was included in Bafana’s 2002 Fifa World Cup squad and he scored the only goal of the match as Bafana overcame Slovenia 1-0 during the tournament which was co-hosted by Japan and South Korea.
The hard-working player went on to play for Bafana at the 2005 Gold Cup, 2006 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) and 2010 Fifa World Cup finals. He represented Bafana Bafana on 81 occasions, scoring 16 goals.
Nomvethe won the 2000 Bob Save Supa Bowl during his time with Kaizer Chiefs, before going on to win the Swedish Allsvenskan title with Djurgårdens in 2005. Bhele went on to win the 2008 Danish Superliga with Aalborg BK and he played for the club in the Uefa Cup during the 2008/09 campaign.
Upon his return to South Africa, the speedy player lifted the 2012 MTN8 Cup with Moroka Swallows. Before that Nomvethe won the PSL Footballer of the Year, Absa Player of the Season, Players’ Player of the Season and Golden Boot with 20 goals at the age of 34 following a successful season with Swallows.
He is currently the all-time leading top scorer in the PSL.
Nomvethe will go down as one of the greats of South African football, and his sheer hard work and professionalism made him a unique player, who inspired his teammates with his displays. His behaviour and professionalism on and off the field inspired young players as he was handed the captain’s armband on numerous occasions.
Most importantly, Nomvethe’s quiet family life has helped him stay on top of his game for a very long time and he has been able to emulate South African football legend John Moshoeu, who played until he was 40.
Surely, many young aspiring professional footballers would love to follow in Nomvethe’s footsteps one day.