The Top 5 Best South African Footballers of All Time [ Benni McCarthy is #3]

This article celebrates the greatest South African footballers of all time. Bafana Bafana may have fallen on hard times, having failed to qualify for the last three World Cup finals, but they can look back on an extensive history and a number of superb footballers.

In compiling this list, we have only considered those players who represented the national side, in any guise. Thus, Liverpool’s Craig Johnston, for example, who won five English championships and one European Cup with the Reds, has not been considered as he featured for England U-21s, even though he was born in Johannesburg.

We have considered longevity, popularity, impact, honours and ability in compiling this list, therefore, it is little wonder that several of Bafana Bafana’s legendary “Nation Builders” of 1996 feature.

5. Neil Tovey

The likes of Shaun Bartlett, Aaron Mokoena, Steven Pienaar, Jomo Sono and John Moshoeu were all considered, but ultimately, it is Neil Tovey who takes the fifth-place spot in this list.

Tovey may not have been a player as accomplished as some of those mentioned above, but as South Africa’s first-ever captain, he has an eternal place in history.

However, this was not the extent of Tovey’s contribution to Bafana Bafana. He lost the captaincy, but managed to get it back in time to lead the Generation of 1996, the Nation Builders, to the African championship.

He was the first-ever player to reach a half-century of caps for the national side.

Tovey’s leadership ability was the bedrock upon which that success was built. He inspired those around him to overcome obstacles and remain obdurate in the shadow of menacing opposition.

His playing career spanned two decades, as he featured for Kaizer Chiefs and AmaZulu.

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