Pierre Issa

Former Bafana Bafana defender Pierre Issa.

Where is Pierre Issa? Former ‘public enemy number 1’

Pierre Issa became notorious for scoring ‘two’ own goals against France during Bafana Bafana’s first-ever World Cup match in 1998.

Pierre Issa

Former Bafana Bafana defender Pierre Issa.

Many local football fans still remember Pierre Issa for own goals he scored against France at the 1998 World Cup.

At that time, Issa was new to the Bafana Bafana team and was relatively unknown. Following Bafana’s disappointing World Cup debut, Issa faced criticism from some fans. The team had high expectations given the talented players they had, having won the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations.

In their opening match, Bafana faced the host and eventual champions, France, and lost 3-0. Although many believe Issa scored two own goals in the game, he only scored one. The second-half stoppage time goal for Les Bleus, which is often attributed to Issa, was officially recorded as Thierry Henry’s first for his country.

Despite his poor World Cup performance, Pierre Issa redeemed himself years later and became one of South Africa‘s top defenders. He retired from international football in 2006, having played in 47 matches. After retiring, he worked as a football director for several clubs, including Greek football giants Olympiacos.

Pierre Issa was blamed for Bafana’s poor 1998 World Cup

Currently, Issa(48) runs Playeleven11, a company that focuses on developing football talent in Africa and France. Although some fans still hold him responsible for Bafana’s disappointing World Cup campaign, Issa has always received support from Bafana supporters.

“The people and fans were very good with me and I really thank them for the support,” Pierre Issa told IOL.

“It was not easy after the first game against France. I went on to play almost 50 games and the fans really helped me a lot. I was close to Benni (McCarthy), Mark Fish based I’m now based in France and Greece so it has not been easy to keep in touch,” he said.

Issa has been a football director since football retirement

There is also a misconception that Pierre Issa was born in France and was only naturalised as a South African. He was actually born in Germiston and moved to France at age 11. The defender was naturalised as a French citizen late in the 90 while playing for Bafana.