Considered the best League in the world, the English Premiership has hosted the best players from around the world and getting there is not easy at all.
In fact, only 15 SA players have managed to play there since the establishment of the Premier League in 1992. FARPost remembers the SA players that have played in the UK’s top tier.
Mark Stein – Chelsea
1993 – 98
Born in Cape Town, Stein is relatively unknown in South Africa. He was born in 1966 and reportedly left SA in the 70s with his family to settle in the UK. According to reports, Stein set a Premier League record by scoring in seven consecutive matches from December 1993 to February 1994 while in the books of Chelsea. The record stood until 2002, when Ruud van Nistelrooy surpassed it.
Lucas Radebe – Leeds United
1994 – 2005
‘Rhoo’ is arguably the most successful SA player to play in the English Premiership, having featured for Leeds United for 11 years after joining from Kaizer Chiefs in 1994. They called him ‘The Chief’. There’s a bus named after him in Leeds!
In all, he made 201 EPL appearances for Leeds, despite some injury troubles along the way and it has been previously reported that he was signed to keep the late Phil Masinga “happy” but ended up playing a much bigger role.
DID YOU KNOW?
In April 1996, Radebe played a couple of matches as a goalkeeper… yep, a goalkeeper, notably against Manchester United at Old Trafford!!! Leeds’s Mark Beeney was sent off after handling the ball outside the box after just 17 minutes and Radebe took over. “I was on the bench as a sub and suddenly a jersey and pair of gloves was thrown at me. I remember Phil [Masinga] sitting there with his head in his hands,” recalled Radebe, who had earlier played keeper against Middlesbrough.
Incredibly, the Bafana Bafana captain was only beaten by a Roy Keane strike in the 73rd minute as Man United managed to win 1-0.
Phil Masinga – Leeds United
1994 – 1996
Born and raised in a village called Khuma, Klerksdorp, Masinga arrived at Leeds from Mamelodi Sundowns three weeks before Radebe joined him and would go on to score 11 goals for Leeds including a hattrick in extra time against Walsall in the FA Cup, before leaving after making 31 appearances to play for Swiss side St Gallen and later on in the Italian Serie A for Salernitana and Bari.
“We weren’t used to the weather and we struggled a little bit – we kept each other warm at times,” Radebe told the BBC. “Phil was a big hit with the team and the players. I looked up to him and I think he inspired me the most. It was absolutely great the way he adapted to the situation.”
Masinga passed on at the age of 49 in January 2019.
Eric Tinkler – Barnsley FC
1997 – 1998
The former Bafana Bafana midfielder played for Barnsley during the 1997-98 season and stayed on after their relegation. He left in 2002 to sign for Caldas, a Portuguese side.
Mark Fish – Bolton Wanderers and Charlton Athletic
1997 – 1998, 2000 – 2005
Fish made over 100 appearances for Charlton after a successful spell at Bolton. He had started his European journey at Italian side Lazio, whom he had joined from Orlando Pirates in 1996. It’s reported that he turned down a move to Manchester United in favour of a switch to Bolton.
Shaun Bartlett – Charlton Athletic
2000 – 2006
“Mark Fish and myself shared the same sports lawyer, and obviously he recommended me. Keith Peacock, who was the assistant manager at the time, came across to Switzerland (where Bartlett was playing for FC Zurich) to watch me a few times and within a few weeks I found myself at Sparrows Lane being taken around the facilities. I loved the club and I loved the facilities from the minute I got there. The more I got into it, in terms of meeting the players and everybody involved with the club, I knew it was a good fit for me. As far as the values of the club were concerned, I knew it was somewhere I could fit in well,” Bartlett explained to planetfootball.com. He made 139 appearances for Charlton, scoring 26 goals.
DID YOU KNOW?
Bartlett netted a thumping volley against Leicester that won Match of the Day’s goal of the season award for 2000-01.
Sean Dundee – Liverpool
1998 – 99
Born in Durban, the striker was on fire in the Germany Bundesliga where he played for Karlsruher before making a move to Liverpool in the late 90s and was such hot property that he snubbed Bafana Bafana after it appeared he would play for Germany
He made just five substitute appearances for Liverpool. “It’s easy to blame different people, but I wasn’t fit enough when I went there. That was my first mistake, I had to catch up a little bit. When I did get fit I got injured and that was it,” Dundee told planetfootball.com.
Quinton Fortune – Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers
1999 – 2006, 2006 – 2007
He’s the only South African to play for Manchester United and worked under one of the best managets ever, Sir Alex Ferguson for seven years at Old Trafford. He made over 100 appearances before departing for Bolton. “Look at the players I was playing alongside: it was Scholesy (Paul Scholes), Roy (Keane), Nicky Butt. You look to your left, you’ve got Giggsy (Ryan Giggs), (Sebastien) Veron, (Andy) Cole and (Dwight) Yorke up front. It was just a joy,” Fortune told The Independent.
Mbulelo Mabizela – Tottenham Hotspur
2003 – 2005
‘OJ’ was destined for greatness and it all fell apart for him at White Hart Lane. “I got all the support that I needed overseas, I won’t lie. I had my mistakes, I am only human after all,” Mabizela told SAFM. “The honest truth is I was ill-disciplined, and it has cost me not only in Europe but also around SA,” added Mabizela. Having joined from Pirates, Mabizela’s stay at Spurs was short-lived, but many would remember the goal he scored against Leicester from outside the box in 2003.
Aaron Mokoena – Blackburn Rovers, Portsmouth
2005 – 2009, 2009 – 2010
The former Bafana Bafana skipper played almost 200 games in the English Premier League and true to his nickname ‘Mbazo’ (meaning The Axe), he was a hard tackling defender.
Matthew Pattison, Newcastle United
2005 – 2007
Pattison rarely played because of injuries. In total, he played 10 matches in the EPL and later played in SA for Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits, before returning to the UK.
Benni McCarthy – Blackburn Rovers, West Ham United
2006 – 2010, 2010 – 2011
In his debut season for Rovers, McCarthy netted 24 goals and also went on to play for West Ham, for whom he failed to score in 14 games.
DID YOU KNOW?
McCarthy is Bafana Bafana’s top scorer of all time with 31 goals, followed by Bartlett, who ended his international career with 29. McCarthy remains the only South African to win the UEFA Champions League, during his time with Portuguese club, Porto.
Steven Pienaar – Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Sunderland
2007 – 2011 and 2012 – 2016, 2011 – 2012, 2016 – 2017
‘Schillo’ is the only South African to play for three different top-flight clubs in England and was Everton’s Player of the Season in 2009/10.
Kagisho Dikgacoi, Fulham and Crystal Palace
2009 – 2011, 2013 – 2014
He joined Fulham from Golden Arrows in 2009 and finished his career at Championship side Cardiff City four years ago.
DID YOU KNOW?
Dikgacoi is one of just five players that have been sent off in their Premier League debut. He was involved in the above incident with Scott Parker of West Ham in October 2009 and was given his marching orders.
Tokelo Rantie – Bournemouth
2015 – 2016
The rise of Rantie was as quick as his fall. Now clubless and having been training with Bloemfontein Celtic before the Coronavirus outbreak, Rantie played 3 matches for Bournemouth in England’s toplight, all for a total of 38 minutes. He had joined them from Norwegian side, Malmo, in 2013.
WHAT ABOUT ANDREW SURMAN?
He was born in Johannesburg and has played 144 English Premiership matches over the years. He’s currently with Bournemouth. However, he’s maintained over the years that he’s English and had no interest to play for SA.
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By Tiyani wa ka Mabasa