Top 10 South African Footballers of All-Time

7th. Neil Tovey (CB)

Unlike the others on this list, Nevil Tovey, Bafana Bafana’s own captain fantastic played out his entire career within South African itself. Having spent almost all of this youth career with the Durban-based club, Juventus Durban FC, Tovey made his professional debut with another Durban-based unit, Durban City FC in 1981. During his 4 years with the club, Tovey made over 174 appearances for the club & helped them to successive National Professional Soccer League titles in 1982 & 1983.

In 1986 Tovey made the switch to another Durban-based club, Amazulu FC. He would remain with the Usuthu’s for a total of three seasons & recorded a total of 117 appearances for the club. Following his stint with Amazulu, Tovey made the final move in his career when he joined The Kaizer Chiefs in 1990. With the Chiefs, Tovey won the 1991 NSL title & captained the side to the 1992 NSL title. In addition to the league titles, Tovey also won a number of cup competitions which includes the MTN 8 title (1991,92 & 94), Telkom Knockout Title (1997 & 98) and the Nedbank Cup once in 1992.

By the time the NSL wrapped up in 1995, Tovey had the recorded the most number of appearances in the competitions’ history. During his final season at the Chiefs in 1998/99, Neil Tovey served as a player & assistant manager for the club under Serbian coach Pavle Dolezar. By the time he called it a day on his playing career, Tovey had amazed a total of 362 appearances of the chiefs & scored a total of 32 goals in the process.


Following his retirement from the game, Tovey followed the footsteps of his mentor Clive Baker & took up the challenge of football management. Baker was responsible for unearthing Tovey & nurtured him from his days at Juventus Durban to Durban City FC and finally at the South African National Side. The duo served as captain & manager as Bafana Bafana won their first ever major international trophy during the 96′ AFCON Championships [1]. The former South African captain currently serves as the Techincal Director for the South African National Team.

International Career

Tovey who would only make his international debut at the age of 30 went on to feature in a total 52 internationals for Bafana Bafana. He captained the side in 29 of those 52 internationals & played a crucial role not only as captain but as a player when Bafana Bafana won the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations. He also represented South Africa in the 1997 Confederations Cup before retiring from international duty.

6th. Ephraim Matsilela Sono (CAM)

Ephraim Matsilela Sono ranks among one of the very few South African footballers who’ve able been to forge an equally credible playing & managerial career. Sono followed in the footsteps of his father, Eric Bamuza Sono who himself was a professional footballer with Orlando Pirates before his untimely demise when Jomo Sono was just eight. Upon making his debut for the Pirates, Sono quickly gained admirers for his dribbling prowess & passing ability. After a highly successful stint with the Pirates, Sono made the move to the US in 1977 to feature for the New York Cosmos. The move made Sono the first ever South African to play on foreign soil.

It was during his time with the Cosmos that Sono had the opportunity to share the pitch with Brazilian legend Pele. In his first season itself, Sono was able to play a hand, mostly as a substitute, in helping the club to the 1977 NASL title. Over the next few years, Sono went on to feature for a number of North American clubs which includes the Colorado Caribous in 1978, the Atlanta Chiefs in 1979 & the Toronto Blizzards from 1980 to 82. Following his retirement from the game, Sono has gone on to manage the South African national side on a number of occasions. Currently, Jomo Sono both owns & coach’s ABSA Premiership club Jomo Cosmos.

International Career

Jomo Sono couldn’t forge an international career for himself as South Africa as a country was banned from competitive football by FIFA due to the apartheid regime that plagued the country at the time.

Continue Reading: Top 10 South African Footballers of All Time – Part 4

External Resources

[1], A Look back at South Africa’s historic 1996 AFCON Campaign