SA star tastes league glory in Europe

SA Players Abroad

Bafana Bafana striker Lyle Foster has earned himself a league winners' medal in Europe after guiding Westerlo to the Belgian First Division B title.

Westerlo will be returning to the Belgian Pro League next season after claiming the 2021/22 Belgian First Division B title on Sunday with two matches to spare, despite suffering a 2-1 defeat to relegation-threatened Lommel the day before.

The club's success has seen Foster – who is on loan from the Portuguese Primeira Liga side Vitória de Guimarães – claim his first piece of first silverware in Europe since he joined French giants AS Monaco from Orlando Pirates in 2019.

The 21-year-old has scored four goals in 21 league appearances for the campaign and assisted his side's opening goal on Saturday before missing a penalty, which preceded Lommel's surprise comeback.

However, the defeat proved to be of little consequence after Westerlo's nearest title rivals RWDM suffered a 3-0 defeat to Kurt Abrahams' Deinze, which made it mathematically impossible for any team to catch the newly-crowned champions. 

The Noordgesig-born star appears set to return to his parent club in the Portuguese top-flight next season, although it remains to be seen whether Westerlo's promotion will play a role in determining his future.

Earlier this month, while on international duty with South Africa, Foster called on more domestic-based stars to seek out opportunities in Europe, where he has thus far played for Monaco, Cercle Brugge, Vitória and his current employers.

"I definitely hope the appetite is there for them to want to play in Europe," he said.

"In all honesty, the gap is so huge between our league and the leagues in Europe [in terms of] the competitiveness and just the way it is run and the professionalism. I hope that we can export and have more players in Europe.

"I surely believe that it will strengthen the national team for when we do compete at these qualifiers and high-level tournaments because we then have the experience of facing people from different countries and different internationals rather than always playing in the PSL against one another for four or five years.

"So, it does make your skin tougher and makes you readier for the challenges you face. So, I hope the appetite is there for a lot of guys to come to this side of the world and ply their trade."

Scroll through the gallery to see some of the SA stars who have won top-flight titles in Europe