Top 10 South African Football Players In Europe

Following the success of Bafana Bafana in the 1990s, South African football continues to produce exciting talent. Many young players are now displaying their skills in Europe’s most-rated leagues. This guide provides a list of the top 10 South African soccer players currently playing In Europe.

READ ALSO: Top 10 Highest-Paid African Footballer Playing In Africa 

Who Are The Top 10 South African Footballers in Europe?

  • Sphephelo Sithole
  • Lyle Brent Foster
  • Lebohang Mothiba
  • Kobamelo Kodisang
  • Ethan Chislett
  • Gift Links
  • Lars Veldwijk
  • Thabo Cele
  • Keaghan Jacobs
  • Liam Jordan

1. Sphephelo Sithole


Sphephelo S’Miso “Yaya” Sithole is a South African professional football player who plays for Tondela in Liga Portugal 2.

Starting his professional career, Sithole debuted for B-SAD on July 15, 2020, in a Primeira Liga match against Braga, which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Following B-SAD’s relegation from Liga Portugal 2, Sithole signed a two-year contract with Tondela on July 11, 2023. Sithole has also represented South Africa on the international stage.

As of January 30, 2024, he has earned a total of 12 caps for his national team. Although he hasn’t scored any goals yet, but has been a consistent presence for South Africa.

In terms of honors, Sithole was part of the South African squad that achieved third place in the Africa Cup of Nations in 2023.

2. Lyle Brent Foster


Lyle Brent Foster is a professional South African footballer playing for the Premier League club, Burnley. Brent started his club career with Orlando Pirates in the 2017–18 season.

His talent caught attention, earning him a spot among The Guardian’s top 60 most promising young players worldwide.

In January 2019, he moved to Monaco, signing a deal that lasted until June 2023. Originally, Foster joined Monaco’s reserve team.

Later in August 2019, Foster went on a season-long loan to Cercle Brugge, a feeder club of Monaco, based in Belgium.

This move provided him with valuable playing time and experience. In August 2020, Foster switched to Vitória de Guimarães. Thereafter, he went on a season-long loan with Westerlo in 2021, with an option for a permanent transfer.

By the summer of 2022, Foster made a permanent move to Westerlo, signing a four-year contract. In January 2023, he was admired by the EFL Championship club Burnley, signing a significant four-and-a-half-year contract.

The transfer to Burnley was a significant milestone for Foster, with a reported fee of €7 million, setting a new record for a South African player.

This figure increased to €10 million after Burnley secured promotion to the Premier League. Foster’s contribution to Burnley’s success was also recognized when he signed a new five-year contract in October 2023.

However, his journey faced a setback when he encountered a mental health issue in November 2023, resulting in an indefinite break from the game.

Despite the challenges, Foster made a successful return to the field after a two-month hiatus. His comeback was marked by a goal against Everton and a notable performance against Aston Villa in the final fixture of the year.

READ ALSO: Top 10 Highest Paid South African Football Players

3. Lebohang Mothiba


Lebohang Mothiba, a South African footballer, started his career with Mamelodi Sundowns but didn’t make it to the first team. Instead, he joined Diambars academy before signing with Lille, a French club, in 2014 at the age of 19.

At Lille, Mothiba began with the under-19 team and signed his first professional contract. During the 2016–17 season, he went on loan to Valenciennes, where he impressed with his two goals in nine appearances.

His loan was extended, and he scored eight more goals. Lille, struggling in the league, recalled him, and Mothiba’s five goals in 14 matches helped the team avoid relegation.

Despite his success, financial problems forced Mothiba to leave Lille in the 2018–19 season. He then joined Strasbourg on the last day of the summer transfer window for €4 million.

He scored his debut goal in a dramatic late equalizer against Montpellier and later helped Strasbourg win the Coupe de la Ligue.

In November 2019, Mothiba ended a goal drought with a brace against Nîmes Olympique and In January 2022, he joined Troyes on loan until the end of the season.

4. Kobamelo Kodisang


Kobamelo Kodisang is a professional South African soccer player playing In Europe. He currently plays for Moreirense in the Primeira Liga.

When he made his debut in the Premier Soccer League at the age of 15 in August 2015, he became one of the youngest players ever to do so.

Kodisang’s talent was first noticed by Cavin Johnson, the manager of Platinum Stars when he was just ten years old.

After joining the youth team, Kodisang became talked about for his standout performance at the 2014/15 MultiChoice Diski Challenge tournament, where he helped his team secure a win against Orlando Pirates by scoring two goals.

In the 2015–16 season, Kodisang was promoted to the senior squad and made his professional debut for Platinum Stars on August 26, 2015, during a match against Golden Arrows.

This achievement made him one of the youngest players to ever play in the Premier Soccer League. In September 2018, Kodisang joined Portuguese club Sanjoanense on loan for a season, followed by a move to S.C. Braga B in mid-August 2019.

He then joined Moreirense on loan in August 2022 and signed a permanent contract with the club in June 2023 after they secured promotion to the Primeira Liga.

5. Ethan Chislett


Ethan Alexis Chislett has made a name for himself with his flair on the field and skill for finding the back of the net. Chislett’s talent runs in the family, with his grandfather, Gordon Chislett, also having represented the South Africa national soccer team.

His soccer career began in his productive years, where he sharpened his skills with different clubs including Southampton, Aldershot Town, Metropolitan Police, and Basingstoke Town.

He also spent some time in Spain with Reddis, which he credits for his development as a player. His return to England saw him make significant strides in his career, with successful stints at Metropolitan Police and Aldershot Town.

In August 2020, Chislett moved to AFC Wimbledon, recording 123 games over three seasons. His impressive performance, including being the top scorer from midfield in the 2022–23 campaign, caught the attention of many clubs.

However, it was in July 2023 that Chislett made his latest move, joining Port Vale in EFL League One. His impact was immediate, with memorable performances including a stunning home debut, scoring two goals against Fleetwood Town.

READ ALSO: Top 10 Greatest African Footballers Of All Time

6. Gift Links


Gift Links currently plays as a left wingback for the Danish Superliga club Aarhus GF, having begun his career with Cape Town City.

He was part of the Cape Town City team that won the MTN 8 Cup in 2018. In September 2019, Links joined Danish Superliga club Aarhus Gymnastikforening, signing a contract until June 2024.

Originally recognized as a forward, Links underwent a positional shift under the guidance of head coach Uwe Rösler during the 2022/23 season.

And he has displayed remarkable adaptability, Impressing in his new role. One of his best games fans mostly talk about occurred during the season’s final game, where Links delivered a stellar performance, earning the Man of the Match title.

His contributions were instrumental in AGF’s impressive comeback against Brøndby IF to secure a crucial 3rd place finish in the Superliga.

7. Lars Veldwijk


Lars Veldwijk, a Dutch-born professional soccer player has made his mark in different clubs across Europe and Asia. From his early days at Excelsior to his international career with South Africa.

Veldwijk started his club career with Excelsior in the Netherlands, netting 35 goals in 45 appearances during the 2013–14 season.

This stellar performance earned him a move to Nottingham Forest, a club in England’s Championship League in June 2014.

During his time at Nottingham Forest, Veldwijk also had loan spells with PEC Zwolle in the Netherlands and KV Kortrijk in Belgium, as well as a loan stint with Aalesund in Norway.

Veldwijk’s career led him back to the Netherlands, joining FC Groningen before moving to Sparta Rotterdam. At Sparta Rotterdam, he was an integral part of the team’s promotion to the Eredivisie, the top tier of Dutch football.

However, Veldwijk’s career also faced setbacks, including a move to Suwon FC in the K League 2 and a controversial incident that led to the termination of his contract.

8. Thabo Cele


Thabo Cele is currently playing for Fakel Voronezh in the Russian Premier League. Growing up in KwaMashu, Cele showed early promise in soccer.

In 2016, he joined Real S.C., a third-division team in Portugal, after training at the KZN Academy in South Africa. The following year, Cele took another leap in his career by signing with S.L. Benfica, one of Portugal’s top clubs.

Despite this move, he later returned to Real S.C. on loan. Cele’s career continued in 2018 when he joined Cova da Piedade, a team in the Portuguese second division.

In October 2021, Cele also signed a two-year deal with Radomiak Radom. Most recently, in August 2023, Cele made headlines once again when he moved to Fakel Voronezh.

READ ALSO: What Is A Hat Trick In Soccer?

9. Keaghan Jacobs

keaghan jacobs

Over the years, Jacobs became a familiar face on the field, contributing to Livingston’s successes despite the club’s financial challenges.

After his initial spell at Livingston, Jacobs went to Bidvest Wits in the Premier Soccer League before returning to his roots at Livingston.

During his time with the club, he made history, becoming their record appearance holder. Jacobs also went on a loan spell at Falkirk in the Scottish League One. However, In 2022, he joined Arbroath in the Scottish Championship.

10. Liam Jordan

liam jordan

Liam Jonathan Jordan is a promising South African footballer currently playing for the Swedish Allsvenskan team IF Brommapojkarna.

Jordan made his debut on 17 March 2015 against the University of Pretoria during the 2015–16 Nedbank Cup to mark the beginning of his football career.

In January 2018, Jordan went on a loan with HB Køge from Sporting B, with the move becoming permanent later that summer.

This opportunity allowed Jordan to gain valuable experience and further develop his abilities in the field. On 7 March 2023, Jordan joined the newly promoted Swedish Allsvenskan side IF Brommapojkarna.

After showcasing his talent at the under-17 and under-20 levels, for the South African national team, he made his senior international debut on 2 July 2017 against Tanzania during the 2017 COSAFA Cup.

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