Top 10 South African Footballers of All Time

5th. Patrick Ntsoelengoe (CAM)

He could defend, he could dribble, he could score, Patrick Ntsoelengoe to this day is remembered as arguably the most complete footballer African has ever produced. Having started his career at a very young age, Ntsoelengoe spent the first few years of his career with a number of semi-professional clubs, most notably the Kaizer 11’s in 1969. After a couple of years with the Kaizer 11’s, Ntsoelengoe made his professional debut in 1971 with Kaizer Chiefs FC at the age of 21. Over the next 17 years, Ntsoelengoe would remain with the Chiefs’ itself helping the club to numerous league & cup titles.

In total, Ntsoelengoe made a total of 542 appearances of the Chiefs’ & scored a total of 250 goals in them. Ntsoelengoe won a total of 24 major titles with the club which includes the 5 NPSL titles (1974, 77, 79, 81 & 84), 4 Telkom titles (1983, 84, 86 & 88), 8 MTN titles (1974, 76, 77, 81, 82, 85 & 87) and 6 Nedbank Cups (1972, 1976, 77, 78 & 81). If South Africa had not been banned from international competitions during the late 70’s & 80’s, Ntsoelengoe may well have been spoken along with the likes of Zico, Platini to name a couple.

American Diaries

In addition to his time with Kaizer Chiefs, Ntsoelengoe has also featured in a total of 11 seasons in the NASL (North American Soccer League) all of which came during the off-season in his country. Having made his first foray into North American Football with Miami Toros in 1973, Ntsoelengoe came a household name in the country during his spell with the Denver Dynamos in 1975. Having made a total of 21 appearances for the Dynamos that season, Ntsoelengoe had a return of 10 goals & 5 assists to show for his efforts.

For the 1976 season, the entire Denver Dynamos franchise was shifted to Minnesota & the team was subsequently renamed the Minnesota Kicks. Ntsoelengoes moved along with the franchise & would remain with them until the end of the 1981 season. During his time with the club, Nitsoelengoe won the Pacific Conference title in 1976 & was named in the NASL all-star first team on two occasions (1979 & 1980). Upon leaving the Kicks, Ntsoelengoe would go on to join the Toronto Blizzards where he would finish his career in the NASL. Upon retiring from the game, Ntsoelengoe tried his hand at management with his notable stint coming with the South African U-23’s.

International Career

Another player who couldn’t forge an international career with Bafana Bafana due to the apartheid regime that existed in the country during that time. Ntsoelengoe did, however, represent South Africa on one occasion, a friendly against Rhodesia in 1977. At the age of 54, Ntsoelengoe passed away due to a heart-attack in 2006.

4th. Doctor Khumalo (CAM)

For a brief period of time during the early 90’s, Theophilus Doctorson Khumalo was arguably the face of South African football. Best remembered for his playing days with Kaizer Chiefs FC and the South African National team, Khumalo started his career with home-town club Moroka Swallows in 1984 under the guidance of his father Eliakim Khumalo. Eliakim “Pro” Khumalo was himself a former South African Footballer who spend almost all of his playing career with the Moroka Swallows. Khumalo Junior though couldn’t follow in his fathers’ footsteps at Moroka Swallows and soon made the move to fellow rivals Kaizer Chiefs FC in 1986.

Not long after his move to the Chiefs, Khumalo made his professional debut with the club at the age of 19. From 1987 to 2004, Khumalo would go on to spend his entire career with the Chiefs making over 400 appearances for the club. Khumalo did spend a brief period on loan in both Argentina with Ferro Carril Oesk and the US with Columbus Crew FC. Khumalo’s crowning period with the Chiefs came during the early 90’s when he led the club to multiple league & cup championships and was subsequently honored as the South African Footballer of the year in 1992.

In total Khumalo has won a total of three NASL titles (1989, 1991 & 1992), six MTN 8 cups (1987, 89, 91, 92, 94 & 2001), five Telkom Knockout Championships (88, 89, 97, 98, 2001) & 3 NedBank Cups (87, 92 & 2000). Khumalo was also part of the Chiefs’ squad that won the 2001 African Cup Winners’ Cup.

International Career

Doctor Khumalo was part of the South African National side from 1992 to 2001. In their first official international game after the ban on the National side was lifted, it was Khumalo who scored from the spot which helped them to a 1-0 win over Cameroon. Khumalo was also part of the National side that won the 1996 AFCON Championship & also featured in the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

His most defining moment in a South African Jersey came during a 1996 Mandela Cup match against Brazil. Khumalo scored once and assisted another as South Africa lost 3-2 against the best in the world at the time. Upon retiring from the game, Khumalo has taken up coaching and is currently serving as the assistant coach of the Kaizer Chiefs.

Continue Reading: Top 10 South African Footballers of All-Time – Part 5

External Resources

[1], Doctor Khumalo – South African Legend