What do Phil Masinga, Lucas Radebe, Mark Fish, Shaun Bartlett, Quinton Fortune, Benni McCarthy and Steven Pienaar all have in common? Besides being regular names on the Bafana Bafana teamsheet during their respective football playing careers, these South Africans all graced English Premier League
teams at one point or another and showcased their dazzling talent to the watching world.
The latest name to be added to that list is Thakgalo Khanya ‘TK’ Leshabela of Leicester City and although he is yet to make his official Foxes debut, he was included in the matchday squad by manager Claude Puel for their Carabao Cup victory over Southampton on Monday.
As he took his place on the bench amongst the substitutes, South African fans back home could only wait and wonder whether this young man could indeed follow in the footsteps of his predecessors.
But who is he?
Thakgalo was born on the 18th
of September 1999, recently celebrating his 19th
birthday. He left Mzansi when he was just 2-years-old and spent his formative years in the Foxes academy. He has made a total of 9 appearances for the under-23’ this season, scoring one goal – a superb strike with the outside of his right foot into the top corner against their nearest neighbours Nottingham Forest.
He was nominated for the Under-18s ‘Player of the Season’ award in May, narrowly missing out to Conor Tee before being promoted to the Under-23 team this season.
He will feel right at home in the Leicester City squad with a host of fellow African players Kelechi Iheanacho, Wilfried Ndidi (both Nigeria), Daniel Amartey (Ghana) and Fousseni Diabate (Mali) all regulars around the King Power Stadium.
In a time following the recent death of their beloved Chair Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Leicester’s faithful fans need a lift. Another potential star coming through their ranks represents just that. He has been handed the squad number 59 and if Leshabela ultimately makes his Foxes bow, he will be the second graduate to be handed a first-team opportunity by Puel – the other the iconic Hamza Choudhury.
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