SA Power 100: 2013 | Quinton F

SA Power 100: 2013 | Quinton Fortune

Quinton Fortune is a South African former footballer who has represented a number of European clubs including Manchester United, Atletico Madrid and Bolton Wanderers.

SA Power 100: 2013 | Quinton F

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Quinton Fortune is a South African former footballer who has represented a number of European clubs including Manchester United, Atletico Madrid and Bolton Wanderers. Fortune has earned 46 caps for South Africa, including playing in the 1998 and the 2002 World Cups. He most recently played for Doncaster Rovers, but failed to earn an extension to his contract when it expired in January 2010.

Quinton Fortune left South Africa at the early age of 14, during the dying days of apartheid, to play for the Tottenham Hotspur junior team while attending London’s prestigious Forest School. However, Fortune failed to make an appearance for the senior team and, when he experienced problems in obtaining a work visa – a situation with which many Saffas will be able to sympathise – the budding player went to Spain in 1999 in search of a better fit at Atlético Madrid.

His first appearance for Madrid was against Newcastle United. The twenty-two year-old Fortune, who had long been expected to make his mark as an attacking left-sided midfielder in the mould of Ryan Giggs, proved himself in this and subsequent areas, expanding into defending positions under (later Sir) Alex Ferguson.

Fortune quickly became an established name and went on to play in three Premiership-winning seasons (1999-2000, 2000-1 and 2002-03), yet failed to make the ten season appearances required for eligibility for a winner’s medal.

Fortune was rotated around many different positions during his 126 appearances for United, eventually racking up 10 goals for the Red Devils. Quinton’s release from Manchester United led him to join Bolton Wanderers for the 2006-7 season, and it was here that the former jack of all trades made the left back position his own. However, the promising new defender was injured in a game against Arsenal and was, shortly thereafter, released to Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland – and, still later, Sheffield United – on trial. The next few years were peripatetic – Fortune played for a variety of different clubs, including Brescia, Tubize and Doncaster Rovers again.

The year 2012 saw Fortune return to Old Trafford, training with the reserve team there while working on his coaching badges. Quinton has expressed in a number of interviews that coaching for South Africa at national level would be his dream, and, under the firm guidance of Alex Ferguson and reserve team boss Warren Joyce, his path up the managerial ladder should be as smooth as his playing career was rocky.
In a BBC interview, Fortune was asked what he does with his days now that he has been released from professional football. He said, “I still go training at Manchester United every day. If I stayed at home I would go crazy. I’ve played football since the age of four so I don’t know what else to do”.

Fortune’s belief in football as an agent of change is therefore absolute, which may explain why he has gone further than the baseline charity efforts expected of football stars today.
Fortune has made a substantive commitment to improve lives, not just by extending access to football, but by using sport itself to engineer social change.

The 2010 World Cup’s “Don’t Kick Off” featured Fortune and aimed to eliminate the use of football fervour as a vehicle for domestic violence. Fortune also played the thrilling Red Heart United matches in aid of charity – the equivalent of a supergroup of the greatest soccer players of the last 15 years, all on one field, with the president of Spain shaking hands in the tunnel – and, perhaps most importantly, youth development in South Africa (as Gauteng Future Champions ambassador).

The GFC is a groundbreaking initiative to bring the rising stars of international soccer – tomorrow’s champions – from places like Brazil, Mexico and Qatar to Gauteng to play against local hopefuls. This builds not only match experience at the top level but, crucially, professional networks.

Fortune admits that he doesn’t follow South African club football as closely as he might – Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates were boyhood heroes, but, as Quinton explained, they’re from Johannesburg and he’s from Cape Town. Talking to the BBC’s Jonathan Jurejko, Quinton, who spent all of his late teens and afterwards in Europe, explained that his favourite country to play in was Spain, because of the intensity of his experience when he arrived in Madrid at 18 and encountered Iberian sunshine and food. Quinton still watches Spanish football every week.

Quinton Fortune has been hairdryered by Alex Ferguson (for jumping out of a 50-50 tackle), has overcome injury and knows a thing or two about paying your dues at the top level before breaking through to the rewards. These are all qualities that could make of Fortune Bafana Bafana’s first star player-turned-coach…and possibly kickstart the team’s return to greatness. “That’s the plan,” Fortune told BBC Sport. “I want to gain as much knowledge and information as I can while I’m at United. Then I will try to get work in [England] and move up the ladder…but to be South Africa national team coach is my dream.”
Fortune, who played in the 1998 and 2002 World Cup finals, is convinced he will see an African country win the cup in his lifetime.

“Yes, absolutely. I believe that,” he insists, in words that prove Bafana Bafana could do a lot worse than to welcome this ex-Capetonian back as national coach.

Read more about South Africans who have excelled in the world of sport:

SA Power 100 2013 | Jonathan Trott

SA Power 100 — 2013: Kevin Pietersen

SA Power 100 2013: Dean Furman