My Dream Team
Fan-favourite Matthew Booth enjoyed an exemplary career in both the PSL and abroad, but keeps it local in choosing his all-time Dream XI.
Matthew Booth formed part of the South African squads at the 1997 Under-20 World Cup, the 2000 Olympic Games, the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup. The now retired defender also had a successful club career which started with Cape Town Spurs, followed by almost a decade in Europe before seeing out his playing days at Ajax Cape Town and Bidvest Wits. Here the tall defender remains true to his roots in selecting his Dream XI.
Coach: Leonard Slutsky
I had a lot of great coaches, and enjoyed training under Mich d’Avray after he won the 1995 double with Cape Town Spurs. But I was impressed with Leonard Slutsky when he coached me at Krlia Sovetov in Russia. He is one of the few Russians who worked in England, and was one of the first coaches who used modern technology to his advantage. He had some strange but logical ideas.
1 Goalkeeper: Wayne Roberts
Wayne’s all-round natural ability was second to none and he was very athletic. During our time together at Cape Town Spurs and in the national team, he pulled off some unbelievable saves. He always seemed to know which way the striker was going to go. He was one of the goalkeepers from South Africa Sir Alex Ferguson had an eye on – that’s how good he was. The fact that I have Itumeleng Khune on my bench shows how highly I rate Wayne, but unfortunately he had issues off the field which affected his growth.
2 Right-back: Nkhiphiteni Matombo
Matombo was underrated, and deserved more credit than he got as he added a lot of balance to our defence. While David Kannemeyer would push forward a lot on the left, Matombo was more defensive-minded. He was versatile and could play as a centre-back, and was a no-nonsense defender. He was an integral member of the junior national teams.
3 Left-back: David Kannemeyer
I spent a lot of time with David in the national Under-20 and Under-23 teams and at Cape Town Spurs. He was a left-back ahead of his time as he loved going forward and adding to the attack. He had one of the best crosses I can remember. We signed together for Cape Town Spurs, having played against each other from Under-8s.
4 Centre-back: Lucas Radebe
I played with Lucas for a short period of time at Bafana Bafana – he was one of the few players from the Afcon 1996 squad I was able to play with. I tried my best to model my game on him, Neil Tovey and Mark Fish – I did my best to take a little bit of everything from all of them. I admired his bravery, and he was a good communicator on and off the field. He was always accessible to young players and that is something I learned from him.
5 Centre-back: Fabian McCarthy
Fabian was a very good reader of the game; some centre-backs are not the quickest, but they compensate by being good readers of the game. Fabian was also a good distributor of the ball. He was unlucky that he didn’t get a chance to go and play in the more established leagues in Europe, but everyone could see his qualities in the national Under-20 and Under-23 teams.
6 Central midfield: Quinton Fortune
Quinton had a great left foot and played for Manchester United, one of the best teams in the world. Naturally, being one of the first players to go overseas, a lot of young players looked up to him. At Under-23 level he played in the middle with Abram Nteo and would link up the attack and the defence. He was great at set pieces and when he scored against Brazil in the 2000 Olympics, I was standing right behind him.
7 Right wing: Stanton Fredericks
Stanton was a great winger with an ability to cut inside and use both feet. He complemented Jabu [Mahlangu] very well and was able to break down the opposition defence. He went overseas and played in difficult leagues like Russia and Greece.
8 Central midfield: John Moshoeu
“Shoes” was one of the very few 1996
squad members I managed to play with, and he was one of the most creative midfielders of our generation. He had silky skills and when he got inside the opposition box, he was a composed finisher. He was an all-round attacking midfielder with a great personality, and was a true professional.
9 Forward: Raphael Chukwu
I played with Raphael at Sundowns and he was all about pure power and pace. He had a fierce shot from outside the box – at training you didn’t want to go against him. He had legs bigger than my waist!
10 Forward: Benni McCarthy
Benni is probably our best export. He was a lethal finisher and something we are lacking these days. He won the Uefa Champions League and played for some of the best clubs in Europe. His ability to turn defenders inside the box and score was great. His goal against Manchester United with a header in the Champions League was a great finish.
11 Left wing: Jabu Mahlangu
Jabu was very tricky, the perfect player to break down the opposition defence and a great finisher. He knew where the goals were – he was like that. We didn’t ask him to do much defending, and Shakes [Mashaba] would let him stay out wide and not worry about tracking back. Off the field, he was always smiling.