Cape Town legend who broke new ground in the English Premier League

You could be forgiven for thinking that Shaun Bartlett was a professional golfer these days given how much time the 49-year-old spends on the course. If you were to scroll through Bartlett’s Instagram feed you wouldn’t find a shortage of pictures of the legendary South African striker strolling a fairway or two on one of the picturesque golf courses in the Rainbow Nation.

Although with that said, Bartlett is still very much a football man so don’t expect to see him playing on South Africa’s Sunshine Tour anytime soon. At least, for now, the latestlive golf oddswon’t show Bartlett’s name in the running to win an event as he challenges the country’s more prominent golf stars like Louis Oosthuizen, who is currently priced at 40/1, or Garrick Hugo, at 66/1 odds, at the Masters in April. Bartlett does, however, have one thing in common with these golfers and that is the way he flew the flag for South Africa on the biggest sporting stage in the world during his career.

The 49-year-old is, of course, a former African Cup of Nations winner with Bafana Bafana in 1996 and also went on to enjoy an incredibly fruitful career with Charlton Athletic in the English Premier League. Bartlett would end up spending six seasons at the Valley and, significantly, those were the only seasons that the club didn’t get relegated from the top flight. It was certainly a spell in the club’s history that was their most successful in the Premier League as the Charlton players bought into the philosophy that manager Alan Curbishley promoted.

Whilst those enjoyable seasons under Curbishley may not have produced any silverware, Bartlett did earn a prestigious individual accolade by winning the goal of the season award in 2001 after scoring a stunning left-footed volley against Leicester at the Valley. It was such a memorable strike that it was voted in the top four goals in Charlton’s entire history.

All in all, Bartlett would make 137 appearances for Charlton and scored 26 goals over that time. It may seem like a return of goals that don’t pop out at you at first, but those stats don’t reflect the South African’s crucial role in the final third for Charlton over the early 2000s. In many ways, it was a selfless job that Bartlett carried out as he dropped deep to keep possession and bring others into play. Notably, the striker’s hold-up play was lauded as one of the best in the league at the time.

So whilst Bartlett may not have been prolific in front of goal, he was worth his weight in gold as a team man who spearheaded Charlton’s attack. It was indeed a career that he was able to extract the most out of. But what of this legendary ex-Charlton man today, where does the former Premier League stalwart find himself – apart from the golf course – 16 years after leaving the Valley?

The truth is: for the former Charlton Athletic striker, golf is merely a way to escape the pressures of professional football management and over this recent South African summer of 2021/2022, Bartlett has used his time on the fairways to recharge before taking on his first full season in charge of Cape Town Spurs in late February.

Indeed, contrary to popular belief and despite being anavid golfer, it is football management that Bartlett has the most passion for these days and he hopes his coaching exploits in South Africa will eventually take him back to the Premier League, the division where he starred as a player for the Addicks.

Time will tell if Bartlett is able to enjoy a fairytale return to southeast London but even if he doesn’t, his legacy as a Charlton great is secure.

SOURCE: www.voiceofgh.com

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