Groeneveld on Bafana future

Groeneveld, 18, has been earmarked as one of the most promising defenders in Belgium since Standard beat Manchester United and Arsenal to his signature from KV Mechelen two years ago on a three-year deal.

With impressive displays within the club's development ranks and stints training with the first team, a breakthrough season seems imminent for the elegant centre-back, who's already represented the Belgian national U-18 team on three occasions.

However, he remains eligible to represent South Africa, the country of his birth, which he feels 'deeply connected' to despite leaving at the age of four.

"Having been brought up in Belgium surrounded by my Belgian family, a very big part of me is Belgian. At the same time, I know where my roots are," he told

"Both my parents raised me to be aware and proud of my South African roots. We have visited the family in SA every second year and were always in close contact.

"This means that I am one of many European Africans who feels deeply connected and profoundly loyal to their European home country and their African country of origin.

"I realise that this is difficult to understand for some people, but it is truly how I feel."

With the option to represent the country of his father's birth and the nation he grew up in, as well as Bafana Bafana, the promising teenager is transparent about his desires.

"It would be an absolute honour to represent the South African colours at senior level, as it would be the case if I would be picked by Belgium. But again, these choices are hopefully in the future.


"Today my only goal is to improve day by day. And to have already represented Belgium at youth level and to probably soon represent SA at youth level is a dream come true for me and I am honoured and humbled by it."

On rejecting two Premier League giants, he said: "I earned my transfer to Standard two years ago, we agreed on a three-year deal and at that time Man United and Arsenal had also wanted to transfer me.

"But the Standard offer was by far the best - financially, school-wise and I would be added to U21s there instead of the U18s at the English clubs."