SA teenagers strutting their stuff at European clubs
The future bodes well for Bafana with a host of youngsters being exposed to top-flight football abroad
Luke le Roux’s move from SuperSport United to Varbergs in Sweden adds to a growing list of SA teenagers having now signed professional contracts with clubs in Europe‚ a turnaround in fortunes for the country after a lean spell of getting players abroad.
Le Roux was unveiled on Monday after signing a four-year contract with the club and is now the third SA teenager at the newly promoted side‚ who last season competed in the same league as GAIS‚ the club that launched the career of Luther Singh.
It bodes well for the future of Bafana Bafana that players are being picked up by European clubs at such an early age‚ exposing them to the rigours of moving abroad and making a life away from home.
Here is the list of SA teenagers who are on the books of European clubs.
Keanin Ayer: Box-to-box midfielder, Ayer is already an established star at Varbergs and was a major cog in their promotion push last season.
He is highly regarded in Sweden and it is a wonder he has still not represented SA in junior international football.
Kgagelo Chauke: Winger Chauke has only just turned 17 but he recently signed a professional contract with English Premier League side Southampton.
He has flitted between the club’s Under-18 and Under-23s this season‚ where he has excelled.
His story is similar to that of Siph Mdlalose though‚ who also signed a pro deal at the club but has faded into obscurity.
Bradley Cross: The former Bidvest Wits centreback is a fixture in the Under-19 side of German Bundesliga side Schalke and will be seeking to push for first-team honours in the next year or two.
He also holds British citizenship, so Safa may have a fight to bring him on board.
Lyle Foster: Foster‚ 19‚ is already an established junior international and has spent this season on loan at struggling Belgian top-flight side Cercle Brugge from French Ligue 1 outfit Monaco.
He has managed just a single goal so far and will want to up that tally‚ but he remains a big prospect for the national side.
Mhleli Mabuza: Mabuza is a product of the KZN Football Academy and is at Portuguese third-tier side Lusitano GC Évora‚ who he joined at the start of the season.
The 19-year-old right-back has fitted in well and become a regular in the team.
Katlego Mashigo: The central midfielder is at Irish side Bohemians and will be looking to make his big break in the next season or two‚ having featured heavily for the club’s Under-19s.
Like Chauke‚ he hails from Soshanguve‚ but left for Europe with his family at a young age.
Tashreeq Matthews: Matthews‚ 19‚ makes up the trio at Varbergs and will hope to ignite a career that has also taken him to Borussia Dortmund‚ Utrecht and Helsingborg before he was 20.
He will feel the time has come to go from promising youngster to first-team regular.
András Németh: Cape Town-born Németh may already be lost to SA football as he is seen as a huge talent in Hungary‚ who he qualifies for through his father.
The 17-year-old playmaker is on the books of top Belgian side Genk‚ but has been loaned to Lommel for the rest of this season.
Christos Retsos: Retsos is only 18‚ but has broken into the first team at Greek side Panionios this season. He is the younger brother of Johannesburg-born Panagiotis Retsos‚ who recently joined English Premier League high flyers Sheffield United from Bayer Leverkusen in Germany.
Panagiotis has already played for Greece‚ so would be ineligible for Bafana Bafana‚ but that is not true for Christos.
Nkanyiso Shinga: Shinga‚ 19‚ is another product of the KZN Football Academy and is in the Under-23 side at Portuguese top-flight club Vitoria Setubal. He is usually a left-back‚ but can also play as a winger.