Bafana Bafana legend Shaun Bartlett celebrates his 50th birthday on Monday, a chance for to reprise some memories from a glittering career that saw success in the Africa Cup of Nations, participation at the World Cup, and a club career in the Premier League, Major League Soccer and league and cup double success in South Africa with his first club Cape Town Spurs, where he is now the coach.
Best goal ever scored
“I think you know that one, the volley against Leicester City, 1st of April 2001. It was the way the goal was scored, a long ball over the top and then on the volley first time. It was a game changer for me at Charlton Athletic. I actually was on loan at the club, so I was playing for a contract. It was a good spell for me also; I went through a few games scoring and probably putting the final stamp on it as far as getting the contract was concerned. I actually get reminded of it often. And then the Premier League posted it on Twitter a couple of weeks ago.”
Best game ever played in
“My home debut for Charlton against Man United. I was with the club for I think, 10 days, and I made the starting XI. I remember vividly because my wife was in South Africa with my son at the time, and she didn't have DSTV, trying to drive around to find a decoder to watch. I managed to score two goals in that game and we drew 3-3. As far as my international career is concerned, definitely the highlight was winning the 1996 Cup of Nations. It propelled me to international status as well as getting contracts in America and Switzerland and in England eventually. That was the springboard I would say to my international career as far as clubs are concerned.”
Best footballer played with
“I don't think many people know about it, but I actually played in America for the New York MetroStars with Roberto Donadoni. I used to watch him on TV so when I managed to be on the same field with him it was unreal. He was one of the most intelligent footballers I've ever played with as far as understanding the game, and there's also the service to strikers for scoring goals.”
Toughest defender played against
“I always say John Terry at Chelsea. No striker likes confrontation and John Terry was one of those defenders always up on your heels or up your backside or kicking from behind, tackling from behind and coming through with his elbow in the back. So he was without a doubt the toughest defender I've ever came up against.”
Best club you played for?
“I would say Charlton. I didn’t spend the bulk of my career at one club, but six years at Charlton was the longest I spent at any club. Also just the way I was received and the genuine way in which I was treated and as a family as well. The whole environment just suited me as a person and that's why I would always say it was probably the most successful time of my individual career. Nowadays I follow them religiously and obviously hope they get back to the Premier League.”
By Mark Gleeson (courtesy of www.mtnfc.co.za)