Legend of the week: Quinton Fortune

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Born on 21 May 1977 in the city of Cape Town South African legend Quinton Fortune went on to become one of the few players to play in two FIFA World Cups and also participate in the UEFA Champions League in the history of South Africa.

In 1991 after winning an inter-provincial national youth tournament and being named the Player of the Tournament, Fortune was scouted by a coach who recruited him to join English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.

This is where he started his career in Europe with their academy from 1991 to 1995, but he could not make his first team debut for the club with his representatives deciding that a move to join Spanish side Mallorca in search of a team that would suit his style of play was a better option.

Fortune stayed at Mallorca for only a season before Madrid based side Atletico Madrid signed him in 1996.

A young Fortune would make 67 appearances for Madrid with their B team and their first team before English giants Manchester United came calling for his signature in 1999 signing him for 1,5 million Euros which was a big amount for a footballer during those times.

In 1998 Fortune was called up to the Bafana Bafana squad for the FIFA 1998 World Cup aged just 21. In 2000 at the Sydney Olympics he played for the SA U23 U23 that beat Brazil 3-1 with Fortune scoring a stunning free kick.

Fortune played for Manchester United’s first team between 1999 until 2006 when he was released. In the seasons of 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2002-03 Manchester won the English Premier League.

Unfortunately for Fortune he could not get a winners medal because of the League rules which stipulated that a player must play 10 games or more to earn a winners medal which unfortunately he didn’t qualify for because he had played less matches.

However, in the 2002/03 season he was awarded a winners medal on a special condition because he had played 9 Premier League games.

In 2000 Fortune played in the Africa Cup of Nations that was co-hosted by Ghana and Nigeria, with the latter knocking out SA in the semifinals. In 2002 Fortune would go on to play for SA’s second consecutive World Cup in South Korea/Japan.

Between 2004 and 2006 Fortune played more games for Manchester United as both a left back and a left midfielder scoring a few important goals but the one goal that remains in the memories of many South Africans is the goal he scored in the UEFA Champions League against FC Porto where fellow countryman Benni McCarthy was also on the score sheet in a draw in a tie where Porto would go on to win on aggregate and later be crowned the champions of Europe.

Fortune’s time at Manchester United came to an end after the 2005/06 season when he was released by the club. He scored 5 goals in a total of 76 appearances for ‘The Red Devils’ before moving to Bolton Wanderers in 2006.

It is in this period where the South African international would literally hardly ever spend more than one season in a single club moving from one club to the next in a short space of time. In the 2006-7 season he played only 6 games for Bolton before moving to Italian Serie B side Brescia in 2008 where he played only one game in the entire season.

Fortune then signed for Belgian side Tubize in 2009 playing nine games in the process without any goal. Later that year Fortune would sign his final professional football contract in 2009 signing for Doncaster Rovers where he played 6 games scoring only once before later closing the curtain on his career.

Overall the man from the Cape Flats made 173 career appearances scoring 13 goals in his career.

The 42-year-old is currently coaching Manchester United’s youth teams specifically the U18s and U23s as he continues his journey info coaching while acquiring all the necessary qualifications. In one interview with FIFA TV Fortune said that one of his dreams is to one day come back to South Africa and make a contribution in the national team.

Fortune went on to say he wishes that one day he will help South Africa win the FIFA World Cup in future. Until today Quinton Fortune remains the only South African to have ever played for arguably the biggest English football club of all time Manchester United and his journey must be an inspiration to many that anything is possible in life if you work hard and believe.

By Prince Sobayeni

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