South African-Born Soccer Players Playing for Other Countries

Sylvia Kiragu

South Africa is home to many professional footballers. While some of the players are proud to play for the Bafana Bafana national team, several South African-born soccer players are also playing for other countries. 

Players who switch their FIFA allegiance do so due to diverse reasons, from dual nationality to looking for greener pastures.

Below is a look at some of the famous South African football players who play for other countries. 

1. Keanu Baccus – Australia    

Keanu Baccus
  • Position: Defensive midfielder 
  • Current Team: St Mirren 
  • Previous Team: Western Sydney Wanderers 
  • Date of Birth: 7 June 1998
  • Awards: AFF Under-19 Youth Championship (2016)

Keanu Kole Baccus is a professional footballer who plays for Scottish Premiership club St Mirren. 

Baccus was born in Durban, South Africa, but moved to Australia with his family before his first birthday.

Therefore, it is unsurprising that he joined Australia’s national team instead of Bafana Bafana. 

2. Panagiotis Retsos – Greece

Panagiotis Retsos
  • Position: Defender
  • Current Team: Olympiacos 
  • Previous Team: Hellas Verona, Saint-Étienne, Sheffield United, and Bayer Leverkusen. 
  • Date of Birth: 9 Aug 1998
  • Awards: Super League Greece Young Player of the Season (2016/17), Super League Greece (2016/17). 

Panagiotis Retsos was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, but chose to represent the Greece national team. He currently plays for the Greek Super League club Olympiacos.

While born in South Africa, both of Retsos’ parents are Greek. In addition, his family returned to their native country soon after his birth. Hence, he spent most of his life in Greece. 

3. Storm Roux – New Zealand  

Storm Roux
  • Position: Defender (right-back)
  • Current Team: Central Coast Mariners 
  • Previous Team: Melbourne Victory and Perth Glory. 
  • Date of Birth: 13 Jan 1993
  • Awards: A-League All-Star (2014), A-League Men Championship (2022/23), OFC and U-201 Championship (2013). 
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Storm Roux plays for the Australian club Central Coast Mariners. He was born in Somerset West, South Africa, but plays for the New Zealand national team. 

Roux moved with his family from South Africa to New Zealand at the age of three and later to Australia, giving him FIFA ties to the three countries.

However, he considers himself mostly a New Zealander, so he chose to represent the country’s national team. 

4. Ryan de Vries – New Zealand 

Ryan De Vries
  • Position: Forward 
  • Current Team: Auckland City 
  • Previous Team: Sligo Rovers, FC Gifu, Bentleigh Greens, and Waitakere United.  
  • Date of Birth: 14 Sept 1991
  • Awards: New Zealand Football Championship (2009/10 to 2014/15), OFC Champions League (2013/14 to 2015/16), and FIFA Club World Cup Bronze Medal (2014). 

Ryan de Vries plays for New Zealand Club Auckland City. He was born in Cape Town, South Africa, but plays for the New Zealand national football team at the international level. 

Ryan de Vries immigrated to New Zealand at 17, where he kick-started his football career.

He was called into the New Zealand national team in 2015, becoming the first black South African to wear the nation’s colours. 

5. Deklan Terrence Wynne – New Zealand 

Deklan Wynne
  • Position: Defender (left-back) 
  • Current Team: Free agent
  • Previous Team: Charleston Battery, Detroit City, OKC Energy, Phoenix Rising, Colorado Rapids, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Wanderers SC. 
  • Date of Birth: 20 Mar 1995

New Zealand’s Deklan Wayne is one of the most famous South African-born soccer players playing for other countries.

The defender (currently without a club) was at the centre of an Olympic qualifying scandal, which saw New Zealand disqualified after he was deemed ineligible. 

Wynne was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, but emigrated to New Zealand when he was 14. Before his eligibility troubles, he had featured for New Zealand’s Under-20 and Under-23 teams. 

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After he was deemed ineligible, Wynne’s chances of playing for New Zealand looked bleak.

However, the Oceania nation successfully applied for an exemption from FIFA, and the player has been called into New Zealand’s national team several times since then. 

6. Nikola Tavares – Croatia

Nikola Tavares
  • Position: Defender (center-back)  
  • Current Team: Dagenham & Redbridge 
  • Previous Team: Wealdstone and Crystal Palace
  • Date of Birth: 17 Jan 1999

Nikola Tavares plys his trade in the English National League club Dagenham & Redbridge. He was born in Cape Town, South Africa, but plays for the Croatia national team at the youth level. 

Nikola Tavares was born to a Croatian mother, hence his reason for representing Croatia at the youth level.

However, he has expressed a desire to play for South Africa and was even named in the provisional South African squad for the 2019 African Cup of Nations. 

7. Joel Untersee – Switzerland

Joel Untersee
  • Position: Defender 
  • Current Team: Free Agent 
  • Previous Team: HJK, FC Lugano, Zurich, Empoli, Brescia, Vaduz, and Juventus. 
  • Date of Birth: 11 Feb 1994

Joel Untersee is one of the top South African soccer players playing for European countries.

The player (currently without a club) was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, but opted to represent Switzerland at several international youth levels. 

Untersee was born to Swiss parents, and his family moved back to Switzerland when he was young, so he chose to play for the European side.

However, he has expressed interest in switching his allegiance back to South Africa

8. Nicholas Mario Torrao – Macau

Nicholas Mario Torrao
  • Position: Forward 
  • Current Team: Must CPK
  • Previous Team: Sporting de Macau, Benfica de Macau, Windsor Arch Ka I, Bocal, Casa Pia, Cheleirense, Atlético Cacém, and Igreja Nova.
  • Date of Birth: 18 Nov 1987
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Nicholas Mario Torrao was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, making him eligible for Bafana Bafana, but he plays for the Macau national team. 

The professional footballer currently plays for Macanese Liga de Elite Club MUST Chao Pak Kei.

Despite being born in South Africa, Torrao (also of Portuguese descent) spent his childhood in Macau. His journey in football also began in Macau when he joined the under-17 team of the club Benfica de Macau.  

9. Keith Groeneveld – Belgium

Keith Groeneveld
  • Position: Defender (center-back) 
  • Current Team: Hoogstraten VV
  • Previous Team: Cape Town City, KF Feronikeli, City Pirates, Lysekloster IL, and Stord. 
  • Date of Birth: 24 June 1999 

Born in Kimberley, Northern Cape, South Africa, Keith Groeneveld currently represents the Belgium national team at the youth level. 

Keith Groeneveld plays for Hoogstraten VV, a club in the third tier of the Belgian football league system.

Groeneveld was adopted at the age of four and moved to Belgium, where he spent most of his childhood. It’s no surprise that he would play for the Belgium side as opposed to Bafana Bafana. 

10. Kearyn Baccus – Australia

Kearyn Baccus
  • Position: Midfielder (centre and defensive midfielder) 
  • Current Team: Macarthur FC
  • Previous Team: Kaizer Chiefs, Melbourne City, Western Sydney Wanderers, Blacktown City, Perth Glory, and Le Mans II.
  • Date of Birth: 28 June 1991
  • Awards: Australia Cup 2022

Kearyn Baccus, the older brother to Keanu Baccus, is also one of the top South African players representing other countries. He plays for Macarthur FC in Australia. 

Kearyn was born in Durban, South Africa, but emigrated to Australia with his parents at a very young age.

Therefore, most of his childhood, including his youth football career, was spent in the Oceania nation, which saw him called up to the Australia under-17 national team. 

Conclusion 

The above are some South African-born soccer players playing for other countries.

Some of these footballers have played for other nation’s senior teams, thus making them ineligible for Bafana Bafana. 

However, a few players have only appeared for other countries’ national youth teams. Therefore, they can still play for the South African national team should the opportunity present itself.  

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