Who are the Best Footballers to Come out of South Africa?

Africa is a continent with a huge passion for football, some of the best players of all time are of African heritage.

There are five African teams going to the World Cup this month, sadly South Africa will not be one of them. However, there will still be a lot of betting activity around the tournament. Residents should make sure to check out the South African gambling regulations before betting on who they think will take home the trophy. Here we will go into a list of some of the greatest to don the shirt of the Bafana Bafana. 

Neil Tovey

South Africa’s first ever captain. Whilst not being as accomplished as some other players who could have made this list, Tovey will always have a place in the history of South African football. After losing the captaincy and then winning it back, he led the Generation of 1996, the Nation Builders to the AFCON trophy. 

He was also the first South African player to reach 50 caps for his country.

Toney was a strong and inspirational leader for his country, helping lay the groundwork for the success that was to come for Bafana Bafana. 

Tovey had a long domestic career, turning out for Kaizer Chiefs and AmaZulu for two decades.

Lucas Radebe

The man Nelson Mandela named his ‘hero’, huge praise from a man so great. Radebe was part of the side who claimed the African crown in 1996, and he also represented the Bafana Bafana at the 1998 and 2002 World Cup.

After leaving Kaiser Chiefs in 1994, Radebe made the move to the premier league – joining a good Leeds side.  

With a reputation for being a loyal, consistent leader and a strong defender. He was transferred with another South African player, Philemon ‘Chippa’ Masinga, apparently Radebe was only included in the deal to keep the former happy. After a stuttering start, some disagreements with then manager, Howard Wilkinson and some injuries – Radebe earned cult hero status after twice playing as a goalkeeper. 

When Wilkinson was replaced by George Graham, Radebe’s Leeds career took off. He was made team captain for the 1998-99 season. He enjoyed a period of success, finishing fourth in the Premier League in his first season as captain, qualifying for the UEFA Cup. Then achieving a 3rd place finish in 1999-2000, qualifying for the Champions League the following season, where they went on to reach the semi-finals. 

He could have achieved far greater success had the Leeds captain not turned down Manchester United – an arch rival of the club. He remained at Leeds and remains a club legend in Yorkshire to this day. 

He may never have won a major league, but Radebe was named as Leeds’s Player of the Year in 1998 and remains, to this day, a Leeds great.

In 2000, he was awarded the FIFA Fair Play Award.

Benni McCarthy

The only South African player to have ever won the Champions League. A player Jose Mourinho still talks about to this day, he tried to reunite with Benni and sign him on two different occasions when he joined Chelsea from Porto. It was never to be but he never forgot what a player he was. 

With a playing career that took him from Holland, Spain, Portugal and England before returning home to South Africa. He was an integral part of the 2003-04 Porto side that won the Champions League, scoring two goals against a Manchester United side in a game that has gone down in Champions League history after Mourinho’s touchline run to celebrate the winner. That season, he also earned the Portuguese Golden Boot – scoring 20 goals in 23 matches. 

His time at Blackburn was moderately successful, scoring 52 goals in 140 matches. He never quite hit the same heights as he did under The Special One, often pining for a reunion with the man that led him to the Promised Land. Yet still, he goes down as a great and a player many in England remember to this day. 

Despite missing out on the World Cup on home soil through fitness issues, McCarthy did turn out at two World Cups and remains South Africa’s all-time top scorer. 

Doctor Khumalo

Doctor Khumalo became a national hero after South Africa won the African Cup of Nations on home soil in 1996. He was the first South African player to score a goal for his national side following independence. He was the centrepiece of the Bafana Bafana throughout the 90’s, he earned himself 50 caps and established himself as one of Africa’s top midfielders.

He represented South Africa in France at World Cup 98.

Despite never playing European football, Khumalo remains a decorated legend with Kaizer Chiefs, where he made nearly 400 league appearances over the course of 16 years.


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