Q&A with Shaun Bartlett
When I spoke recently with
Answer: Shaun Bartlett, MLS to Zurich, 1997, $1.3 million. Only Stern John's $3 million move to Nottingham Forest two years later took Bartlett out of the No. 1 spot.
Bartlett, who scored 28 goals in 74 caps with the South African national team, went on to play for six years with Charlton Athletic in the English Premiership before returning to South Africa and retiring in 2008. Since then, Bartlett has become a rising star in television soccer commentary for the African sports network SuperSport. When I lived in South Africa for seven months recently, I enjoyed hearing the back-and-forth between Bartlett and TV partner
Bartlett and I caught up by talking about his entry into player development, his concerns about South Africa's World Cup chances, his TV work, and
Then last year in August I went away to the U.K. and got my Level 3 coaching license. That's another area I'm hoping to explore pretty soon. I've started putting it to good use with my technical sponsor Nike. We've gone on the American concept called Boot Camp. We've started that with soccer in South Africa. We had our first one in January -- 300 kids every day for three days -- and the next one is coming up next week. What we're hoping to achieve is after three or four Boot Camps we want to select 20 kids and take them across Brazil and try to produce football players for the national team in South Africa.
That's something that's been a major problem for our federation. Everything is short-term, nothing is really planned way ahead. We knew six years ago that we were going to have the World Cup in South Africa, and everybody else knew that something needed to be done in order to produce a good team that can compete at the highest level, except the federation. It's something that we're certainly trying to change the mindset of the people that are in charge of football in South Africa. Until that changes, there's not going to be a real success for any national team, for that matter, as far as soccer is concerned.