In this feature, we’re going to profile those players who played for Wanderers and represented their country on the international stage. There have been many players from all over the world who have achieved this feat, and today we’re going to focus on those who represented South Africa.
Despite there being just two South Africans to have played for Bolton Wanderers, between them they have 108 caps for their country. Although Fortune’s time with the club was brief, Fish spent a significant amount of time at Bolton – three years in fact, before a move to Charlton Athletic in 2000.
Signed for £2 Million from Italian giants Lazio, the defender started his playing career back home with the Jomo Cosmos and Orlando Pirates before his move to Europe in 1996. Going onto make 132 appearances for Wanderers (4 goals), he played in the Premier League (1997/98) before back-to-back play-off campaigns in 1998/99 and 1999/00 that ultimately proved unsuccessful prior to the club’s promotion a year after he left the club.
Fish spent five years in London with Charlton Athletic (2000-2005), playing top flight football for the Addicks before a loan spell at Ipswich Town and a subsequent return to South Africa to sign for Jomo Cosmos.
On the international stage, many say he is best remembered for being a crucial part of the South Africa side that won the 1996 African Cup of Nations – scoring one of the goals in a Quarter-Final victory against Algeria. He was also named in the Team of the Tournament, and achieved the same individual feat at the 1998 African Cup of Nations.
Making his debut for South Africa in a friendly against Mexico in October 1993, Fish remained a part of the squad for over a decade and made his final appearance for his country in a World Cup Qualifier in June 2004.
A big name in South African football and a player who spent six years at Manchester United during an era of unrivalled domestic success, Fortune spent the 2006/07 season with Bolton Wanderers.
A midfielder with the capability of playing at left full-back, he spent time in the youth system at Tottenham Hotspur before coming through to sign professionally in Spain with Real Mallorca. Following a spell with Atletico Madrid (1996-1999), he signed for Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United for a fee of £1.5 Million in the summer that followed their treble winning campaign.
Making 125 appearances (10 goals) for United, Fortune left Old Trafford in the summer of 2006 and was snapped up by Sam Allardyce. Making his debut against Tottenham Hotspur in a 2-0 victory at the Reebok Stadium, he made his sixth appearance in a 3-1 win against Arsenal in November 2006 and he was to never make another league appearance for the club.
He featured once more in a comfortable FA Cup victory at Doncaster Rovers in January 2007 and that was his final outing for the club. Making a total of 7 appearances, he remarkably never tasted defeat in any of those appearances – conceding just 2 goals in the process.
Following spells in Italy and Belgium with Brescia and Tubize, he returned to England for a brief stint with Doncaster Rovers during the 2009/10 season before hanging his boots up.
Earning 46 caps for South Africa, Fortune represented his country at two World Cups in 1998 and 2002. At the latter tournament, he was one of the team’s most influential players and scored an injury time goal in a 2-2 draw against Paraguay. In 1998, he was also a Runner-Up at the African Cup of Nations.
Making his international debut in 1996, he retired from national duty in 2005.