For the past three weeks, FARPost has been looking into some of Mzansi’s upcoming youngsters’ current exploits and where they could be in the next five years.
South Africa has seen a rise in young players plying their trade abroad in several countries around the world, there are three categories of these players:
- Players born in South Africa and left after turning 18.
- Players who were born in South Africa and left the country at a very young age due to parents getting opportunities abroad.
- Players who were born outside of South Africa to South African parents.
- BRADLEY CROSS
It is rare to find left-footed centre backs in modern-day football and the Mpumalanga Black Aces product is one such special player that has been developing steadily over the years. The 19-year-old has grown in leaps and bounds since leaving Bidvest Wits two years ago to join German side Schalke on loan.
His loan has recently ended at Schalke and he has now joined English Premier League side Newcastle where he has signed a long-term deal. Cross is likely to stay in England for years to come and luckily, he is registered as a local through having English Citizenship through parentage.
- GABRIANO SHELTON
The 13-year-old midfielder has been going through Liverpool’s development structures for the past three years and indications are that he has made serious strides in the academy where players like Alexander Arnold sharpened their craft.
Gabriano is likely going to make it up through the ranks as he looks to one day secure a professional contract and make his senior team debut.
Liverpool has in recent years given very young players their debut as early as 16 with players like Arnold a prime example of that system.
- EL NINO SHELTON
Unlike his older brother Gabriano, El Nino plays as a striker for Liverpool’s U-13 development squad currently. He will continue to play with the development squads right through until he is old enough to join the U-18s in a more tactical focused set up where they groom players for the professional ranks.
- PHILIPPE SANDLER
Born in Amsterdam to a South African father and American mother, Sandler was developed at the Ajax Amsterdam academy before moving to Eredivisie side PEC Zwolle where he made his name. The 23-year-old was then snatched up by Pep Guardiola to join Manchester City on a long-term-deal.
After a long spell at Anderlecht last season Sandler is back with Man City, but an ankle injury has kept him out of the start of the season. The centre back still has three years on his current deal, but with City having an abundance of talent it is uncertain if he will be staying at the club with game time lightly to be a challenge.
- ETHAN CHISLETT
The AFC Wimbledon attacking midfielder has proved over the past three years that he is going up the ranks in English football. The 22-year-old has moved from non-league football to the English third division in a space of two years and he has started the season well with Wimbledon scoring his first goal already.
If the Durban-born dynamic midfielder continues with this pattern, he will surely be playing in England’s top division in the next three years.
- SIBUSISO SHIBANE
Hungry to play first-team football, 21-year-old striker Sibusiso ‘Mabulala’ Shibane took a decision to move from Portuguese top-flight club Portimonense to join third-tier side Agueda where he has been playing regular first team football.
In August the striker explained that the decision was motivated by a wish to play regularly, score goals and return to the topflight in the next two seasons at age 23. He has opened his account already for Agueda in the league and should he continue like this his goals will be in order.
- GIFT LINKS
Probably one of the players that have made a lot of progress in the past three years playing in Egypt, South Africa and now Denmark where he plays for AGF Aarhus in the Superliga.
Links is already playing at a good level with the Danish top tier known for exporting players to Europe’s top 5 leagues. The winger already made his long-term goal of playing in the German Bundesliga clear for the next two years. Links is also a Bafana Bafana international having a few national team caps to his name already.
- LIAM JORDAN
One of the players who moved abroad at a young age and has gone through the ranks at junior national team level, Jordan, is currently in his third season with Danish 1st Division side HB Koge.
Jordan has made over 50 appearances for the club and at 22 he has been ready for top division football which would open doors for a bright future at both the national team and club football.
- SYLIAN MOKONO
Having gone through the ranks of FC Utrecht for the past years Mokono is a full first team player currently and with Utrecht’s reputation of producing players to the biggest clubs across Europe possibilities are endless for the young right back.
- BOIPELO MASHIGO
A sweet left foot, speed and great technique Mashigo is one of the gifted South African players of his generation. Now aged 17 pushing for first team football at German third tier side Unterhaching the winger has made a lot of progress since arriving from SuperSport as a 13-year-old.
Mashigo told this publication that his goal is to make his first team debut this season and while turning 18 will acquire him a European passport next year it will also open doors for him to move to any league in Europe.
RELATED STORY: PART 2: What the future holds for SA youngsters
By Prince Sobayeni