Arminia Bielefeld and Maritzburg United's new alliance rekindles happy memories of the Bundesliga's Bafana Bafana greats. - © DFL
Arminia Bielefeld and Maritzburg United's new alliance rekindles happy memories of the Bundesliga's Bafana Bafana greats. - © DFL

When footballers head north: the Bundesliga's South African connection


Following Arminia Bielefeld's newly signed partnership with South African club Maritzburg United, takes a trip down memory lane for a look at some of the former Bafana Bafana stars who have graced our favourite division through the years.

(All appearances and goals are Bundesliga only)

1) Delron Buckley

Position: Left winger
Clubs in Germany: Bochum, Arminia Bielefeld, Borussia Dortmund, Mainz, Karlsruher
Games: 201
Goals: 26

A powerfully built winger with an eye for goal and tremendous close control, Buckley joined Bochum at the tender age of 17, shining for the club's youth team before making his Bundesliga debut against Hamburg in 1996. After almost ten years at the North Rhine-Westphalia based side, the Durban native left for Bielefeld where he was a huge success in the 2004/05 campaign, netting 15 goals as Die Blauen maintained their top-flight status. Stints at Borussia Dortmund and Mainz followed while Buckley would later return to Germany to play for Karlsruher. A South Africa international on 73 occasions, Buckley featured for the Bafana Bafana at the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups. The 44-year-old now works as a pundit for SABC Sport in South Africa, offering his expert analysis on the Bundesliga.

2) Bradley Carnell

Position: Full back
Clubs in Germany: VfB Stuttgart, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Karlsruher, Hansa Rostock
Games: 134
Goals: 3

Like Buckley, Carnell also featured for South Africa at the 2002 World Cup. The one-time goalkeeper turned defender was part of the VfB Stuttgart side that finished as runners up to champions Bayern Munich in 2002/03, making 134 Bundesliga appearances in total, featuring for Borussia Mönchengladbach and Karlsruher before enjoying a spell at Hansa Rostock in the second tier. Recently named as new head coach of St. Louis City SC, Carnell was previously an assistant at New York Red Bulls.

Bradley Carnell won a Bundesliga runners-up medal with VfB Stuttgart in 2003. - imago sportfotodienst/imago sportfotodienst

3) Sibusiso Zuma

Position: Attacker
Clubs in Germany: Arminia Bielefeld
Games: 69
Goals: 8

A versatile forward who was just as adept at playing up front as he was in wide and central attacking positions, Zuma brought his superstar status in Denmark with Copenhagen to the Bundesliga with Bielefeld in 2005. Playing in 69 German top-flight games during three consistent seasons at the Bielefelder Alm, the Durban-born forward managed eight goals as Arminia maintained their status in the top division throughout his stay at the club. Zuma would go on to captain South Africa, with whom he amassed 66 caps and 13 international goals along with appearing at the 2002 World Cup.

Sibusiso Zuma (top) had plenty to celebrate in his three seasons at Bielefeld. - Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images

4) Steven Pienaar

Position: Attacking midfielder
Clubs in Germany: Borussia Dortmund
Games: 25
Goals: 0

Ever present during his country's appearance as hosts at the 2010 World Cup (the second time he had featured at the global footballing showpiece), Pienaar had previously been on Dortmund's books, having signed on a free transfer for the Bundesliga giants from Ajax. The winger/attacking midfielder donned the No.10 jersey at BVB during the ill-fated 2006/07 campaign, in which Die Schwarzgelben finished in ninth place and were led by three different coaches. Pienaar later joined English Premier League team Everton on loan before a permanent deal between the clubs was reached. Currently a youth-team coach at Ajax, Pienaar represented South Africa 61 times, scoring three goals.

Former BVB man Steven Pienaar (r.) battles with ex-Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery at the 2010 World Cup. - Michael Steele/Getty Images

5) Rowen Fernandez

Position: Goalkeeper
Clubs in Germany: Arminia Bielefeld
Games: 15
Clean sheets: 5

The one-time Kaizer Chiefs shot stopper teamed up with his ex-coach - and current Maritzburg boss - Ernst Middendorp at Bielefeld in 2007. In what was his third spell at the Arminia helm, Middendorp gave Fernandez his Bundesliga debut against Bochum in 2007. The custodian - nicknamed spider - made a further 14 top-flight appearances for Die Arminen and stayed with the club until early 2011, when he returned to his native South Africa to play for SuperSport United. Presently a goalkeeping coach at Maritzburg, Fernandez was a senior international for South Africa on 23 occasions.

Ex-Bielefeld stopper Rowen Fernandez was nicknamed 'The Spider'. - Stuart Franklin/Bongarts/Getty Images