South African-born rising star Ricardo Schutte hopes to be donning the colours of Bafana Bafana in the near future, though a foot injury looks to have ended his hopes of appearing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo with the national Under-23 side.
His has been a fascinating journey having been born in Zeerust, and later moving to the Portuguese island of Madeira, where he idolised another local in Cristiano Ronaldo.
He tells The COSAFA Show of the massive impact the Portuguese star has had on the island.
“Coming from Madeira we always watched Cristiano Ronaldo,” Schutte says. “I liked Manchester United a lot because of him, then Real Madrid and now Juventus. I am always studying how he plays, and he was like a role-model.
“You don’t realise it until you are on the island, but the best thing that ever happened to Madeira was Cristiano Ronaldo … and for Portugal too. Coming from a small, small island, it is just a great impact that he has had on the local community.
“Everybody talks about him, everybody loves him. All the young kids on the island who want to be football players, they are inspired by Ronaldo. You look at where he came from, what he did [to be successful], how difficult was his life in Madeira, because he did not come from a stable background in terms of money and so on.
“So, seeing his career and the great player he had become, it is an inspiration for everyone.”
Schutte is on loan at Spanish LaLiga 2 side Mirandes this season from Portuguese top-flight outfit Rio Ave and admits it has been a tough campaign with injuries.
“I have had a few injuries, but in the beginning I was doing very, very well,” he says. “I had adapted quickly to the team and was playing 90 minutes every game. Then I had a little injury, then another one and another one. But now I am coming back and much stronger again.
“I am really enjoying it and learning a lot. It is the year that I am learning the most. If you play in the first team in this league consistently, then you are going to show your quality and people are going to know about you. I lot of people watch [LaLiga 2], there is a lot of quality and it is a very tough championship.”
Also on the show, we speak to about some exciting developments in that space in the region, including the impending introduction of VAR.
And we also have a chat with a legend in women’s football on the African continent Fran Hilton-Smith about a recent coaches’ workshop that was staged in partnership with LaLiga.