Thulani Serero

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Thulani Serero
Serero with Ajax in 2011
Personal information
Full name Thulani Caleb Serero [1]
Date of birth (1990-04-11) 11 April 1990 (age 33)
Place of birth Soweto, South Africa
Height 1.72 m (5 ft 8 in)
Position(s) Midfielder
Team information
Current team
Khor Fakkan
Number 25
Youth career
2000–2004 Senaoane Gunners
2004–2008 Ajax Cape Town
Senior career*
2008–2011 Ajax Cape Town 63 (17)
2011–2017 Ajax 88 (8)
2013–2017 Jong Ajax 6 (0)
2017–2019 Vitesse 44 (2)
2019–2023 Al Jazira 90 (0)
2023– Khor Fakkan 0 (0)
International career
2006–2007 South Africa U17 15 (1)
2008–2009 South Africa U20 14 (1)
2011– South Africa 41 (1)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals, correct as of 13:08, 27 December 2022 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals, correct as of 15 October 2019

Thulani Caleb Serero (born 11 April 1990) [2] is a South African soccer player who plays as a midfielder for Khor Fakkan and the South African national team.


He started his career at Ajax Cape Town in the South African Premier Soccer League, before joining Ajax and Vitesse in the Dutch Eredivisie. [3] He later played in the United Arab Emirates for Al Jazira and Khor Fakkan.

Club career

Ajax Cape Town

Born in Mapetla, Soweto, Serero is a product of the Ajax Cape Town's youth academy having been promoted to the first team in 2008, making his debut under then head coach Craig Rosslee. He made a total of 11 appearances in the regular 2008–09 PSL season, and managed to score four times, helping his side to a 7th-place finish by the end of the season. The following season saw Serero become the first choice playmaker at the Cape club, making a total of 25 appearances during the regular season, and scoring twice. Ajax CT would finish in 7th place again that season, with Serero gaining much attention from the local media for his performances on the pitch.[ citation needed ]

During the 2010–11 season, under Foppe de Haan, Serero helped the Cape side to a second place regular season finish scoring 11 league goals, and helped his team to reach the finals of the Telkom Knockout tournament. At the end of the season he was awarded a number of accolades, including PSL Footballer of the Year, PSL Player of the Season, PSL Players' Player of the Season and the ABSA Premiership Red Hot Young Player award. On 22 May 2011, he was signed by AFC Ajax for €2.5 million. [4]

AFC Ajax

Serero had had several trials with parent club AFC Ajax in the preceding years. On 22 May 2011 it was announced that he had signed a four-year contract with Ajax and he stated it was 'a dream come true'. [5] He made his debut for Ajax on 7 August 2011 coming on as a substitute player in the match against De Graafschap. He only played in a total of 6 matches in his first season with Ajax due to an injury. He scored his first goal for AFC Ajax in the home win against NAC Breda on 25 August 2012. Two weeks later he scored two goals against SC Heerenveen, receiving a red card and being sent off in the same match. On 1 September 2013 Serero made his debut in the starting 11 of Ajax, replacing Christian Eriksen who had just left for Tottenham Hotspur, playing in the midfield.

On 5 August 2013, he made his debut in the Eerste Divisie, playing for the reserves team Jong Ajax, who had recently been promoted. The match ended in a 2–0 victory against Telstar. On 26 November 2013, he scored his first international goal for Ajax in the UEFA Champions League, when he scored the opener of a 2–1 win at home against FC Barcelona in the 19th minute. [6]

In March 2015, he was associated with a move to AC Milan. [7] His contract at Ajax was not renewed making him a free agent at the end of June 2017. [8]


On 14 June 2017, fellow Eredivisie club Vitesse announced the signing of Serero on a three-year deal. [9]

Al Jazira

In August 2019, Serero joined Emirati club Al Jazira. [10] He contributed to his club's league title in the 2020–21 season, in which he also achieved the Best Foreign Player award. [11]

Khor Fakkan

On 12 September 2023, Serero signed for fellow Emirati club Khor Fakkan. [12]

International career

Serero has played for the South Africa U-20 team. [13] He earned his first cap for South Africa on 9 February 2011. He came on as a second-half substitute in a friendly against Kenya. He scored his first Bafana Bafana goal against Swaziland in a non-friendly match ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. [14]

He was released from the national team squad due to disciplinary reasons the day before their 2014 World Cup qualification group match against Botswana on 7 September 2013. [15] According to Gordon Igesund, Serero had allegedly stated to the team doctor that he did not want to play in the match in order to avoid risking an injury ahead of an upcoming UEFA Champions League game for his club. [16] Serero disputed these claims, stating that he was genuinely injured and therefore wary about participating in the game. [17]

On 15 November 2014, Serero scored his first goal for the South African senior team in a 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualification match against Sudan, scoring in the 37th minute of the 2–1 win at home, thus helping his team secure a berth in the final tournament held in Equatorial Guinea the next year. [18]

Having contributed to his team's placement for the final tournament, Serero was cut from the 23-man selection to represent South Africa in the final tournament under head coach Ephraim Mashaba, having been called up for the 34-man provisional squad prior. [19]

He was recalled to the national team in November 2018. [20]

Career statistics

As of match played 20 December 2018.
Ajax Cape Town 2007–08 Premier Soccer League 000000
2008–09 Premier Soccer League1040000104
2009–10 Premier Soccer League25241293
2010–11 Premier Soccer League2810403210
Ajax 2011–12 Eredivisie 70102000100
2012–13 Eredivisie93101000113
2013–14 Eredivisie293615100405
2014–15 Eredivisie291209010411
2015–16 Eredivisie1412030191
Vitesse 2017–18 Eredivisie292004050382
2018–19 Eredivisie1512040210
Career total195262222816025129

International goals

Scores and results list South Africa's goal tally first.
1.15 November 2014Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, South AfricaFlag of Sudan.svg  Sudan 1–02–1 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualification
[lower-alpha 1] 12 November 2016 Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane, South AfricaFlag of Senegal.svg  Senegal 2–02–1 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification
  1. On 6 September 2017, the Emergency Bureau for the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers annulled the result of the match between Senegal and South Africa from 12 November 2016 and ordered that it be replayed. Originally South Africa had defeated Senegal 2–1. Match referee Joseph Lamptey was banned for life by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee on 20 March 2017 for "unlawfully influencing" the match after issuing a penalty for handball against Senegal. [21]


Ajax Cape Town [22]

Ajax [22]

Al Jazira [22]


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  4. Pretorius, Wade (29 July 2015). "South Africa: Serero's Ajax Future in Jeopardy". AllAfrica. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
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  6. Derek Brookman (26 November 2013). "Ajax claim Barcelona scalp to stay in contention". Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  7. "Thulani Serero's AC Milan Move In Jeopardy". 22 April 2015.
  8. "Reading FC lose interest in Serero because of Bafana ranking". Goal. 12 January 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  9. Crann, Joe (14 June 2017). "Serero Agrees To Three-Year Dutch Deal". Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  10. "Thulani Serero joins United Arab Emirates side Al Jazira on a two-year contract". SowetanLIVE. 26 August 2019.
  11. "Thulani Serero wins Al Jazira award after sensational 2020/21 season". 19 July 2021.
  12. "Emirati club Khor Fakkan sign ex-Ajax & South Africa midfielder". KingFut. 12 September 2023.
  13. Tiyani wa ka Mabasa (13 August 2009). "Masango ready for Ajax's U-20s". Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  14. "Bafana Bafana defeat Kenya". 9 February 2011. Archived from the original on 4 September 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  15. "Serero released from Bafana camp". SuperSport. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  16. "Igesund explains Serero axing". KickOff. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  17. "Serero: I Was Not Faking Injury". Soccer Laduma. 9 September 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  18. "South Africa 2-1 Sudan: Bafana Bafana book Afcon place". Laduma. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  19. "Serero left out of Bafana AFCON squad". The Citizen. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  20. "Baxter recalls Serero to SA squad". BBC Sport.
  21. "Match official banned for life due to match manipulation". Fédération Internationale de Football Association. 20 March 2017. Archived from the original on 20 March 2017. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  22. 1 2 3 "Thulani Serero - Career Honours". Soccerway.
  23. 1 2 3 4 "Ajax Cape Town's Thulani Serero & Orlando Pirates dominate PSL awards".
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