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Benni? Pienaar? Radebe? Who’s South Africa’s greatest export?

3:36 AM EST 1/26/23
Zuma, Benni, Radebe
GOAL’s Ed Dove ranks South Africa’s greatest ever football exports.
  • Tsepo Masilela

    #46 Tsepo Masilela

    Masilela left Benoni Premier United in 2007 and spent five years in Europe playing for Maccabi Haifa in Israel and Getafe in Spain before returning home to sign for Kaizer Chiefs. 

  • Dean Furman - Bafana Bafana

    #45 Dean Furman

    A Chelsea academy product, Cape Town-born Furman then went on to play for Glasgow Rangers before returning to English football with Bradford City.

    He’d become a regular feature of the lower leagues—with the likes of Oldham Athletic and Doncaster Rovers—and later moved back to his homeland with SuperSport United.

  • Pierre Issa

    #44 Pierre Issa

    Made almost 50 international appearances for Bafana, and also represented Olympique de Marseille during the late 90s.

    He briefly moved on loan to Chelsea, but didn’t feature, although he did later taste English football with Watford.

  • Kagisho Dikgacoi of Cardiff City

    #43 Kagiso Dikgacoi

    Made over half a century of appearances for Bafana, and also racked up over 150 appearances in the football league.

    Tasted Premier League action with Fulham and Crystal Palace, and also featured for Cardiff City.

  • Siyabonga Nomvethe South Africa

    #42 Siyabonga Nomvethe

    Nomvethe left Kaizer Chiefs in 2001 and played in Italy and Sweden before a short stint with Orlando Pirates in 2006.

    He would then return from Denmark to join Moroka Swallows and later represented AmaZulu.

  • Nasief Morris, Santos, December 2013

    #41 Nasief Morris

    Morris left Santos for Greece in 2001, and he returned to the country 10 years later to sign for SuperSport United. 

    The defender would then sign for Santos in 2012 and later joined Milano United before hanging up his boots.

  • Matthew Booth

    #40 Matthew Booth

    Enjoyed a long stint in Russian football, moving to Rostov and then Krylia Sovetov on the back of a successful time at Sundowns.

  • Helman Mkhalele - Bafana Bafana

    #39 Helman Mkhalele

    A Pirates star of the mid-90s, Midnight Express then went on to Turkish football where he spent the best part of a decade with the likes of Kayserispor, Ankaragucu and Goztepe.

  • Eric Tinkler of Orlando Pirates

    #38 Eric Tinkler

    No-nonsense midfielder who spent the majority of his career in Europe, sandwiched between two stints at Bidvest Wits.

    Premier League fans may remember him as a member of the Barnsley team that tasted the PL for the first time in 1997.

    An Afcon winner in 1996.

  • Mark Gonzalez

    #37 Mark Gonzalez

    Versatile left-sider who played for Liverpool, Gonzalez was born in Durban but chose to represent Chile at international level.

    He made over half a century of appearances for the South American giants.

  • Ajax Cape Town, Hans Vonk & Sean Roberts

    #36 Hans Vonk

    South Africa-born stopper who spent the vast majority of his career in the Netherlands.

    He represented Ajax across two stints, winning the Dutch Cup in 2006.

  • Percy Tau of Ahly Ahly.

    #35 Percy Tau

    Tau failed to ignite at Brighton & Hove Albion, but he was a league champion in Belgium and has won silverware in Egyptian football under Pitso Mosimane.

  • Doctor Khumalo and Sibusiso Zuma - Chiefs and Pirates

    #34 Doctor Khumalo

    A hero of the Nations Builders at the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations, Khumalo was one of Africa’s finest midfield generals during his playing career.

    He did leave South African shores—to play in Argentina and the United States—but didn’t truly export mzansi overseas like some of the others on this list.

  • Anele Ngcongca Mamelodi Sundowns

    #33 Anele Ngcongca

    The late full-back spent a decade with Belgian side Genk, winning the domestic title in 2011 during a period of some domestic dominance for the club.

  • Shaun Bartlett and Benni McCarthy

    #32 Shaun Bartlett

    After three years at Cape Town Spurs between 1992 and 1995, Bartlett joined Swiss outfit FC Zurich in 1998 and Charlton Athletic in 2000. 

    He would return to the country in 2006 to join Kaizer Chiefs before retiring at Bloemfontein Celtic. 

  • Phil Masinga of Leeds United

    #31 Phil Masinga

    Struggled to make his mark at Leeds United, where he was eclipsed by Lucas Radebe, but the centre forward did enjoy an admirable scoring record in Italian football with Bari.

    The former Bafana and Jomo Cosmos star also played in Switzerland with St. Gallen.

  • Bradley Carnell Wits University June 2020

    #30 Bradley Carnell

    The current head coach of St. Louis City SC in Major League Soccer—the club that recently signed Njabulo Blom—Carnell spent over a decade in German football.

    He represented VfB Stuttgart in 2002/03 season—when they finished second behind Bayern Munich—and then went on to play for Borussia Monchengladbach and Karlsruher.

  • Chris Killen of New Zealand and Macbeth Sibaya of South Africa, June 2009

    #29 MacBeth Sibaya

    An underrated midfield workhorse, Sibaya spent eight years in European football with Rosenborg and Rubin Kazan, winning the Russian title twice with the latter.

  • Roy Wegerle USA 1994

    #28 Roy Wegerle

    Pretoria-born Wegerle opted for an international career with the United States, but would have made an excellent attacking option for South Africa in the mid-90s.

    He featured for the likes of Blackburn Rovers, Queens Park Rangers and Coventry City, having also played briefly in South Africa for Arcadia Shepherds.

  • Mark Fish against Tunisia

    #27 Mark Fish

    Another of Charlton’s Bafana contingent, Fish helped the Londoners establish themselves in the Premier League, and also represented Bolton Wanderers.

    After hanging up his boots, he’s worked in the coaching set-up with South Africa.

  • #26 Albert Johanneson

    A member of the iconic Leeds United team of the 1960s under Don Revie, Johanneson played for the club for almost a decade, paving the way for Lucas Radebe to follow.

    He was the first black player to play in the FA Cup final, although the occasion proved too much for the wideman, as Liverpool defeated the Whites.

  • #25 Brian Stein

    One of several England internationals on this list, Cape Town-born Stein was beloved by Luton Town fans—playing for them for 11 years—and made one appearance for the Three Lions, in 1984.

    He never played in South African football.

  • #24 Bill Perry

    Left winger Perry enjoyed 13 years of service with Blackpool, and was part of the club’s greatest ever team.

    He played a critical role in their FA Cup final success in 1953—scoring the injury-time winner—and played three times for England.

    He was born in Johannesburg, and began his career with Johannesburg Rangers.

  • Aaron Mokoena and Didier Drogba

    #23 Aaron Mokoena

    Mokoena remains the only South African player to have represented the national side 100 times.

    He played for Bafana at two World Cups—including on home soil in 2010— and at four Afcon tournaments, having also enjoyed spells with Blackburn Rovers and Portsmouth.

  • Quinton Fortune, Manchester United

    #22 Quinton Fortune

    A trusted servant of Sir Alex Ferguson, Fortune signed for Manchester United in 1999 after time in Spain with Atletico Madrid.

    Despite never nailing down a first-team berth with the Red Devils, Fortune nonetheless made 27 Champions League appearances and picked up a Premier League winner’s medal.

    The utility man, who later represented Bolton Wanderers and Doncaster Rovers in the English game, also featured for Bafana Bafana at two World Cups.

  • #21 Colin Viljoen

    Ipswich Town’s Player of the Year in 1975, Viljoen played over 300 league games for the Tractor Boys before going on to play for Chelsea and Manchester City.

    He was capped twice for England, despite being born in Johannesburg.

  • John 'Shoes' Moshoeu

    #20 John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu

    The late Shoes Moshoeu spent 10 years in Turkey between 1993 and 2003 before returning to Kaizer Chiefs for the 2003/04 season. 

    One of the finest African midfielders of his generation, he was well respected by Fenerbahce fans following his $2 million arrival.

  • Delron Buckley

    #19 Delron Buckley

    Represented several clubs in the Bundesliga—making over 200 appearances in the top flight—including a spell with Borussia Dortmund.

    His finest campaign came with Arminia Bielefeld, with whom he scored 15 goals during the 2004-05 season.

    He made 73 appearances for South Africa, including representing Bafana Bafana at two World Cups.

  • #18 David Julio

    The Johannesburg-born midfielder spent seven years with Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon, winning the title with the heavyweights, and was even capped by Portugal.

  • South Africa midfielder Thulani Serero

    #17 Thulani Serero

    Cream enjoyed some success with Ajax—helping them clinch the Dutch title on three occasions—although injuries affected his ability to truly make a mark in the Netherlands.

    He is now on the books of Al Jazira in the UAE having had a spell with Ajax's Eredivisie rivals Vitesse.

  • #16 Johnny Hubbard

    Another pioneer for South African players, Hubbard was one of the continent’s first players to feature in the European Cup—representing Rangers in 1956.

    A year earlier, he’d scored a hat-trick for the Glasgow giants in the Old Firm derby against Celtic…needless to say, he was a popular figure for the Gers!

  • Craig Johnston Liverpool FA Cup

    #15 Craig Johnston

    A member of Liverpool’s magnificent team of the 1980s, Johnston won the European Cup in 1984 and the double two years later.

    Born in South Africa, he didn’t make an international appearance for Bafana or Australia, for whom he was also eligible.

  • #14 Steve Mokone

    Kalamazoo was the first black South African to play in a professional European league when he signed for Coventry City in the mid-50s, and was even joined Barcelona in 1959.

    He’d be on the books of the likes of Olympique de Marseille, Torino and Valencia—without featuring—but remains a pioneer for South African exports in Europe.

  • EPL:  Steven Pienaar, Everton vs Cheslea

    #13 Steven Pienaar

    The wideman forged an excellent partnership with Leighton Baines down Everton’s left flank, having arrived in England following stints with Ajax and Borussia Dortmund.

    A move to Tottenham Hotspur in 2010-11 didn’t truly work out—amidst fitness problems and intense competition—but he returned to Goodison Park and duly picked up where he left off.

    Schillo was later recruited as club ambassador by the Toffees, having hung up his boots following spells with Sunderland and Bidvest Wits.

  • #12 Arthur Riley

    Another former Merseyside hero, Riley spent 15 years at Liverpool after moving to Anfield in the mid-20s.

    He played over 300 games for the club - a pioneer for South African players in European football.

  • #11 Berry Nieuwenhuys

    Another of Liverpool’s South African stars, Boksburg-born Nieuwenhuys scored 79 goals in more than 200 appearances for the Merseysiders in the late 30s and 40s.

    His professional career was interrupted by World War Two.

  • Sibusiso Zuma of South Africa.jpg

    #10 Sibusiso Zuma

    'Rhee', as Zuma was affectionately known, played for African Wanderers and Orlando Pirates before moving to Denmark and later Germany between 2000 and 2008. 

    Zuma, who is still revered as a king at FC Kobenhavn after inspiring them to three Danish titles, returned home to sign for Mamelodi Sundowns for a season in 2008.

    He would return to Denmark to join Nordsjaelland.

  • #9 Eddie Stuart

    A member of the legendary Wolves team of the mid-50s, Stuart moved to the West Midlands at the start of the decade and would go on to win the English First Division on three occasions.

    He even captained the club at the end of his time with the Old Gold.

  • #8 Eddie Firmani

    Another player on this list never to represent South Africa, Firmini actually featured three times for Italy, scoring twice for the Azzurri in the late 50s.

    He’s the only player to score 100 league goals in both England and Italy, representing the likes of Charlton Athletic, Internazionale, Genoa and Sampdoria with distinction…and a whole lot of goals.

  • Kaizer Motaung Jr.

    #7 Kaizer Motaung

    Top scorer in the NASL in his first season in American football after leaving Orlando Pirates, Motaung was an early darling of Atlanta Chiefs and later Denver Dynamos.

    He’d go on to return to ZA and form a football team in his own name…you may have heard of them!

  • Senjakala Karier Ikon Sepakbola - Bruce Grobbelaar

    #6 Bruce Grobbelaar

    Why shouldn’t Durban-born Grobbelaar be considered a South African export?

    Sure, he represented Zimbabwe at senior level, but the goalkeeper is one of a number of amazing South African stoppers who made a name for themselves in the European game.

    In Brucey’s case, he featured for 13 years for Liverpool, winning six league titles and the 1984 European Cup with the Reds.

  • Ace Ntsoelengoe of Kaizer Chiefs

    #5 Ace Ntsoelengoe

    One of the great ‘lost talents’ of the African game, Ntsoelengoe moved to North America from Chiefs and thrived in Minnesota, Denver and Toronto.

    Clive Barker once argued that, had he been playing in the modern day, he would stand alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, while others have suggested his footwork was akin to an ‘in-prime’ Ronaldinho.

  • Jomo Sono

    #4 Jomo Sono

    A teammate of Pele at the New York Cosmos, Sono translated his magnificent form from Orlando Pirates to North America, where he also featured for the likes of Colorado Caribous, Atlanta Chiefs and Toronto Blizzard.

    He was also wanted by Juventus, but couldn’t make the move due to work permit issues. Imagine what might have been for the ‘Black Prince of South African Soccer’.

  • Lucas Radebe Leeds United

    #3 Lucas Radebe

    Nelson Mandela’s ‘hero’ is an all-time great at Leeds United, and was influential as South Africa won the 1996 Nations Cup before reaching the World Cup.

    He’s a legend in Yorkshire—revered for his loyalty—and was once targeted by Sir Alex Ferguson as a potential recruit for Manchester United.

  • #2 Gordon Hodgson

    An absolute sensation in English football with Liverpool, Hodgson spent 11 years at the club, scoring 233 goals in 358 top flight appearances for the Reds.

    He represented both South Africa and England, and is behind only Ian Rush and Roger Hunt in the Liverpool scoring charts, having scored over 60 goals more than Mohamed Salah has managed for the Anfield giants.

    Only three players in the history of English top flight football have scored more than Hodgson.

  • Benni McCarthy Porto 2004

    #1 Benni McCarthy

    The only South African player to have won the Champions League, Benni enjoyed success with Ajax before joining Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto side en route to European glory.

    He netted 18 goals in his first Premier League season with Blackburn Rovers, and is currently writing a new chapter in his remarkable overseas career as part of the coaching staff at Manchester United.