SOUTH African footballers are well-known and much loved around the world – and a handful of talented players from Mzansi have made their mark on LaLiga Santander too. As South African fans continue to show their support for the Spanish league, let’s take a moment to recognise the pro footballers from down south who have made their presence known.
Benni McCarthy | 60 LaLiga Appearances
As one of the greatest strikers in South African football history and a character of note, 42-year-old Benni McCarthy needs no introduction. The Cape Town-born Bafana Bafana record holder made his LaLiga debut with RC Celta in 1999 and enjoyed a reasonably successful first few years in the Spanish league before hitting his stride in the early 2000s.
McCarthy went on to join FC Porto and was part of the winning 2003 Uefa Champions League team. He scored a total of 58 goals from 124 appearances for the club between 2001 and 2006.
Nasief Morris | 49 LaLiga Appearances
39-year-old Morris also hails from Cape Town and enjoyed a successful international football career since 2001. The retired centre back played in several European countries, including Greece, Cyprus and Spain.
From 2008 to 2010, Morris played in 49 LaLiga games for teams Recreativo Huelva and Racing Santander (on loan from Panathinaikos) before moving to Cyprus where he continued his European football career.
Tsepo Masilela | 13 LaLiga Appearances
The 35-year-old talented left back Masilela, who hails from Witbank in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, has played club football both at home and in Europe and Israel.
Masilela’s LaLiga debut came in 2011 when he signed with Getafe CF, on loan from Maccabi Haifa, and is the South African to have most recently appeared in LaLiga.
Sizwe Motaung | 13 LaLiga Appearances
Sizwe Motaung (1970-2001) was a gifted defender born in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal. Some early career highlights included being part of the victorious 1996 Africa Cup of Nations team.
Motaung made his debut in LaLiga in 1997 when he signed with CD Tenerife. The club snapped him up after his stellar performance with Swiss team St Gallen the previous season. He returned to South Africa in the late 1990s and was an active club player with Kaizer Chiefs until his untimely death at the age of 31.
Quinton Fortune | 7 LaLiga Appearances
43-year-old Fortune is another Cape Town-born footballer who enjoyed professional success beyond South Africa’s borders. Just as effective as a midfielder and defender, this dynamic player was a regular contender in LaLiga, and also played for Manchester United and the South African national football team.
Fortune first made it to LaLiga in 1995, signing with RCD Mallorca before moving on to Atletico de Madrid the following season. He appeared six times for Atletico between 1996 and 1999, before joining Manchester United.
David Nyathi | 5 LaLiga Appearances
51-year-old Nyathi is well-known to South African football fans in his current role as assistant coach for Ajax Cape Town. The former defender was born in 1969 and overcame significant challenges to establish his professional career at a time when South Africa was excluded from many international sports.
1995 marked an important year for Nyathi’s career when he moved to Europe to compete at club level. He was a member of various teams in the mid-to-late 1990s, making his LaLiga Santander debut with CD Tenerife between 1996 and 1997.