A list of the best South African players abroad: Bafana Bafana’s best footballers

A list of the best South African players abroad: Bafana Bafana’s best footballers

Kevin Omuya
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:13 PM

The country's emergence of a new wave of talent has ushered in a golden age of football. The athletes are in their prime, which makes this even more thrilling. Khanya Leshabela is one of the South African players abroad that the country is proud to call its own. 

South African players abroad
Bafana bafana players abroad. Photos: @thabo_cele2, @lylefoster19, @percytau22 on Instagram. (modified by author)
Source: UGC

South Africa has not been successful in the major tournaments currently. As a result, the country's football federation is not sending nearly as many talented footballers to Europe's top divisions as it once did. Although there is still a tiny but notable population of players making their way into the continent's lower-profile competitions, here are a few South African players abroad and their clubs or teams.

1. Sphephelo Sithole

South African players abroad
Sithole of Belenenses SAD in action during the Liga NOS match between Belenenses SAD and SL Benfica at Estadio Nacional on March 8, 2021, in Oeiras, Portugal. Photo: Gualter Fatia
Source: Getty Images

Exciting feature: Check out news exactly for YOU ➡️ find "Recommended for you" block and enjoy!

South Africa's famous midfielder Sphephelo Sithole is presently signed to play for Belenenses SAD U23. He officially began his professional career when he joined the Sporting U19 team in August 2017. After waiting a year, he finally made it onto the Vitória FC U23 team. He signed with Belenenses U23 in the new year of 2019.

2. Lyle Foster

South African players abroad and their teams
Lyle Foster of South Africa during the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup group F match between South Africa and the Korea Republic at Tychy Stadium on May 28, 2019, in Tychy, Poland. Photo: Aitor Alcalde
Source: Getty Images

Lyle Brent Foster plays professional football for the Portuguese club Vitória Guimares. In the South African national team, he is one of the forwards. In 2016, he made his professional debut after signing with the South Africa U17 squad.

From 2017 to 2019, he was a part of the Orlando Pirates. Later in 2019, he was offered a spot with Monaco B, and in 2020, he could sign with Cercle Brugge and Vitória Guimares.

3. Kobamelo Kodisang

South African players abroad and their clubs
Kobamelo Kodisang of South Africa during the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup group F match between South Africa and the Korea Republic at Tychy Stadium on May 28, 2019, in Tychy, Poland. Photo: Aitor Alcalde
Source: Getty Images

Kobamelo Kodisang is now signed by the Portuguese team S.C. Braga B. In August 2015, he made his Premier Soccer League debut as one of the league's youngest players. For S.C.

4. Kurt Abrahams

Who is the best South African footballer of all-time?
Kurt Abrahams of KVC Westerlo during the First Division B match between KVC Westerlo and OH Leuven at 't Kuipje on August 9, 2019, in Westerlo, Belgium. Photo: Plumb Images
Source: Getty Images

Kurt Abrahams, a South African professional footballer, currently plays for Westerlo in the Belgian First Division B. Cape Town native Kurt Abrahams made his professional football debut with Sint-Truiden in 2017. He signed with Westerlo in 2018 and has since played sixty matches for the team, scoring seventeen goals.

5. Sibusiso Magwaza

The offensive midfielder Sibusiso Magwaza plays for Lithuanian club FK Minija Kretinga. Back in 2014, he got his start with the reserve team of Bidvest Wits FC. He signed with FK Utenis in August 2018 and then switched to FK Minija Kretinga in May 2020.

6. Kamohelo Mokotjo

South African players abroad and their salaries
Kamohelo Mokotjo of FC Twente looks on during the Pre-Season Friendly match between FC Twente and Nordsaelland on July 3, 2022, in Goor, Netherlands. (Photo: Michael Bulder
Source: Getty Images

South African footballer Kamohelo Mokotjo plays for MLS club Cincinnati FC. The defensive midfielder got his start in South Africa, but it was with FC Twente in the Netherlands where he made a name for himself. Soon after, he signed a contract with Brentford and moved to England.

7. Simo Bright Mbhele

The offensive midfielder plays for the Portuguese team SU 1o Dezembro. Since joining the squad in 2018, he has quickly established himself as one of the world's most well-known South African athletes.

8. May Mahlangu

South African players abroad
Mahlangu May of STVV celebrates scoring a goal with teammates during the Jupiler Pro League match between Sint-Truiden and KVC Westerlo in Sint-Truiden, Belgium. Photo: William Van Hecke
Source: Getty Images

May Mahlangu plays central midfield for the FC Ordabasy team. At the tender age of fifteen, Mahlangu began his professional career with Alexandra United. He signed with the Swedish club Helsingborgs IF in 2008. He signed a one-year contract with IFK Göteborg in March 2014.

He moved to Konyaspor in 2015, and then in 2018; he signed with Ludogorets Razgrad. He signed with Ordabasy in 2022.

9. András Németh

The young star plays in the centre-forward position. He began his career in 2016 and has risen over the years to play in the following clubs, KRC Genk Youth, KRC Genk U18 and KRC Genk II. He is currently associated with KRC Genk II.

10. Mhleli Mabuza

Mhleli Mabuza is a key member of Orlando City, SC. He currently represents Lusitano Ginásio Clube, SAD of Portugal, in the Portuguese league. His professional career began in 2018 with Galitos FC U19, and he just switched to CD Pinhalnovense U19. In July 2019, a transition to Lusitano SAD was finalized.

11. Lebogang Phiri

South African players abroad and their clubs
Lebogang Phiri of Guingamp during the Ligue 1 match between Metz and EA Guingamp on August 5, 2017, at Stade Symphorien in Metz. Photo: Fred Margaux
Source: Getty Images

Lebogang Phiri, aged 26, plays professional football for EA Guingamp of France's Ligue 1. He also competes for the South African national team. Phiri kicked off his career in 2012 with Bradby IF. He signed with the French club Guingamp in 2017 and played there until the 2018–19 Ligue 1 season. He was given a shot at Ligue 2 this year and made 25 appearances with one goal.

South African footballer Gift Links plays for the Danish Superliga club AGF. He was a Cape Town City team member in 2018 and 2019 before signing with the club.

13. Tashreeq Matthews

Who is the best South African footballer of all-time?
Tashreeq Matthews of Borussia Dortmund controls the ball during the friendly match against SF Lotte at the Frimo Stadion on November 16, 2018, in Lotte, Germany. Photo: TF-Images
Source: Getty Images

Twenty-year-old Tashreeq Matthews has family ties to Cape Town, South Africa, where he was born and raised. Matthews has played on the South African U20 squad. The German club Borussia Dortmund signed him in November 2018.

After joining Varbergs BoIS in 2020, he has made over ten appearances for the team since joining on loan from Utrecht in 2019. He is now among the most famous South African players at a tender age.

14. Liam Jordan

Liam, If you need further proof that the apple does not fall far from the tree, look no further than Jonathan Jordan's meteoric rise in football. His father, the legendary South African player Keryn Jordan, is an inspiration to him. In the 2015–16 season of the Nedbank Cup, Liam made his debut for a professional football team.

15. Keanin Ayer

South African players abroad and their salaries
Keanin Ayer of Varbergs BoIS and Nebiyou Perry of Ostersunds FK at Varberg Energi Arena on August 2, 2020, in Varberg, Sweden. Photo: David Lidstrom
Source: Getty Images

At age twelve, he moved from Eldorado Park to an academy in Ghana since football had become his haven. Ayer graduated at 18 and joined his squad at FC Nordsjaelland in Denmark.

He was transferred to Varberg later that same year (2018). In 2021, he helped Verbarg advance to the next level of the Superetta. Keanin was a South African Under-20 team member that competed in the 2019 World Youth Championship in Poland in the middle of the year.

17. Karol Lebogang

Karol Morula, son of former Bafana Bafana player Lebo Morula, played for Juan Aurich of Peru. He set a new record by playing 34 games during the season, contributing 1 goal and four assists.

18. Thabo Cele

South African players abroad
Thabo Cele of CD Cova da Piedade in action during the Liga Pro match between SL Benfica B and CD Cova Da Piedade at Benfica Campus on February 16, 2020, in Seixal, Portugal. Photo: Gualter Fatia
Source: Getty Images

In 2016, after graduating from the KwaZulu Natal Academy, the then-twenty-three-year-old began his professional football career with Real SC. Cele signed with Benfica B in 2017 and moved to Real SC the following year.

Thabo signed with Cova Piedade from Benfica B in 2018 after accepting a contract offer from the club in June. He is primarily a central midfielder.

19. Luke Le Roux

He plays midfield for Varbergs BoIS. He is a professional football player. His professional career kicked off in 2016, and he was a member of SuperSport United's roster till 2020. He was a loan player for Stellenbosch FC from 2016-2018.

20. Khanya Leshabela

South African players abroad and their teams
Khanya Leshabela of Shrewsbury Town during the Sky Bet League One match vs Plymouth Argyle at Montgomery Waters Meadow on August 21, 2021, in Shrewsbury, England. Photo: James Baylis
Source: Getty Images

Khanya Leshaba is an exciting and strategic midfielder with a deft touch on the ball. He plays for Crewe Alexandra in English League 2 after exiting Leicester City in the Premier League.

He has been so impressive that former coach Claude Puel signed him to a three-year contract in 2019. As a result, he was given a spot on the Europa League bench not long ago. One of the most brilliant footballers, Khanya Leshabela, seems to have a future that is too bright for his age.

21. Percy Tau

South African players abroad and their clubs
Percy Tau, forward of Club Brugge, during the Jupiler Pro League match against KV Mechelen at the Jan Breydel Stadium on December 15, 2019, in Brugge, Belgium, 15/12/2019. Photo: Nico Vereecken
Source: Getty Images

Percy Tau is a striker for Al Ahly in Egypt. Tau played for Brighton & Hove Albion for four seasons in the English Premier League. However, he only started three Premier League games and six overall during his time at Brighton.

Pau played for Union SG, Club Brugge, and Anderlecht in Belgium while on loan from Brighton. Tau has scored 13 goals for the national team, the most of any active player. He is currently the best player in the South African national team.

South African players abroad and their salaries

Soccer players from South Africa have been migrating to Europe for quite some time now. That has not been the case, though, for the past decade, thanks to the generous salaries provided by the PSL.

When Tau signed with Brighton & Hove Albion, he became a billionaire overnight. He is undoubtedly the highest-paid South African footballer in the world.

Who is the best South African footballer of all time?

Benni McCarthy is the best South African Soccer Player ever. He was also the 2004 Portuguese League's highest goal scorer with twenty goals.

Most South African players who are making us proud overseas are, if you have been paying attention, rather young. But, again, this demonstrates how lucrative the profession is.

READ ALSO: Cristiano Ronaldo's net worth, contract, Instagram, salary, house, wife, cars, age, stats, transfer news

Sportsbrief.com recently published an article about Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese international footballer is a former Juventus and Real Madrid striker and currently plays as a forward for Manchester United.

It is incredible to watch a 37-year-old athlete in the prime of his career as he continues to shatter records and establish new ones. In addition, he is the most followed celebrity on Instagram. Click on the link above to find out Ronaldo's net worth.

Kevin Omuya photo
Kevin Omuya
Kevin Omuya is a Content Writer with 4 years of experience who joined Sports Brief in 2022. In 2019 he held a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Digital Media from KCA University.