South Africa's best football exports to European League

South Africa has produced many gifted footballers who went on to flourish in Europe.

Some of these players have even played in the biggest club competition in the world, the UEFA Champions League and won some silverware.

We take a look at Mzansi's best football exports and what they have achieved as key players for their European clubs.

Thulani Serero

The Bafana Bafana playmaker enjoyed a lot of success during his five-year spell with former European champions Ajax Amsterdam.
Nicknamed Cream, Serero helped Ajax clinch three Dutch Eredivisie trophies, while making 88 appearances in the competition and netted eight goals in the process.
Cream, who also lifted the Johan Cruijff Shield with Ajax, scored during his side's stunning win over Spanish giants FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League match in November 2013.
He is currently with United Arab Emirates (UAE) side Al Jazira.
Steve Pienaar in action for Ajax or Everton

Steve Pienaar

The retired playmaker is one of the most successful South African midfielders in Europe having had successful spells with Ajax Amsterdam and former English champions Everton FC.
Pienaar helped Ajax clinch two Eredivisie titles and one KNVB Cup while also enjoying some game time in the UEFA Champions League as one of the team's key players.
Also known as Schillo, the former Bafana Bafana midfielder moved to Everton in 2008 and helped the team reach the final of the oldest cup competition in the world, the FA Cup, in 2009.
Pienaar, who was named 2009/10 Everton Player of the Season, retired from football in 2018.

“Steven Pienaar is one of the best players I’ve ever played with,” current Everton captain Seamus Coleman said on HITC in November 2016.

“He made the game look so easy, and he loved nutmegging people in training. He did it to me loads of times and it’s annoying at first, but in the end you couldn’t help but laugh.”

Sibusiso Zuma

The legendary South African forward made a huge impact during his five-and-a-half-year spell with Danish giants FC Copenhagen.
Nicknamed Rhee, Zuma played a key role in helping the club win three Danish Superliga titles and was voted into the club's hall of fame for his outstanding efforts in the 2004/05 season.
Furthermore, Rhee was tied for 29th place for the 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year award having helped Copenhagen reach the third round of qualifying in the UEFA Champions League.
Zuma scored with a sublime free-kick in 2001 as they clinched the Danish Superliga title, with that goal voted the greatest moment in the history of the club.
Lucas Radebe in action for Leeds

Lucas Radebe

The former Bafana Bafana captain is widely regarded as one of South Africa's greatest exports as he was a top central defender during his days with former English champions Leeds United.
Radebe had a successful 11-year spell with Leeds and was made captain of the team for the 1998/99 season where he led his side to a fourth spot finish in the Premier League and they qualified for the UEFA Cup.
Known as The Chief, he also helped the Whites finish third in the Premier League in the following campaign and reportedly rejected offers from European giants AC Milan and Manchester United.
The Chief announced his retirement from football in 2005 having established himself as a true Leeds legend.

“I played against Lucas and with him at Leeds. He had every attribute to be a great central defender,” said former Leeds striker Robbie Fowler on IOL.

“When I was at Leeds, he used to tell us about his life story and the battles he faced to get to the top, and I was flabbergasted. All the players used to huddle around Lucas and listen to his story. Also, his longevity in the English Premier League makes him stand out against the rest of the South African players.”

Benni McCarthy

The accomplished retired striker is considered by some as South Africa's greatest export because of the success he achieved during his days with Portuguese football heavyweights FC Porto.
McCarthy scooped the Primeira Liga Golden Boot award in 2004 and was instrumental in Porto's run in the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League, which they won after he scored a brace against Manchester United in the second round.
The three-time Portuguese League Player of the Month award winner also helped Porto clinch two Primeira Liga titles, Taça de Portugal and an Intercontinental Cup.
McCarthy came close to winning the English Premier League Golden Boot in his first season (2006/07) with Blackburn Rovers as he finished second on the league's goalscoring charts with 18 league goals.
The Bafana Bafana legend, who won the Dutch Eredivisie and KNVB Cup with Ajax Amsterdam as a key player between 1997 and 1999, retired from football in 2013. 

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Published: 04/07/2020