Dean Furman

Dean Furman was Bafana Bafana’s overnight sensation at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations. Mind you, “overnight” fails to take into account the fact that he left Cape Town as a boy and doggedly worked his way across Britain’s professional leagues, eventually earning a safe first-team spot — first at Oldham and most recently, on loan, at Doncaster Rovers. He also sat unused on the bench for South Africa in a 2008 friendly against Australia. So the nifty Furman’s senior job with Bafana is deserved. The workaholic midfielder is charged with buzzing about the centre of the park, snatching possession, then coordinating attacks with his laser passes and sniper-like vision. Furman’s performances and affable nature have even earned the 24-year-old a talismanic status among local soccer fans. A rare white star in a traditionally black team, he’s known as “Mlungu”, or “white man”. And as any South African sports fan knows, a catchy moniker is as good a predictor as any of sporting-legend status.  — Ian Macleod