Matthew Booth: Tower of South African soccer
Defender will move the Earth to protect South Africa's goal
Born: March 14, 1977, in Fish Hoek, South Africa
Nickname: Booth. (Every time he touches the ball fans chant his name, drawing out the o-sound and making it seem as if they are booing him.)
Clubs played for: Booth began his career playing for both Cape Town Spurs (now called Ajax Cape Town) and Mamelodi Sundowns. The colossal centre made the journey to Russia in 2002 to play for FC Rostov and Krylia Sovetov Samara. Booth made nearly 200 appearances in Russian league soccer before returning to Mamelodi last year.
International career: The 33-year-old was not part of South Africa's squad for the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, but has become a fixture for the side leading up to this summer's tournament. Booth started all of South Africa's games during last summer's Confederations Cup.
Why is he so special? Widely regarded as the face of South African soccer, Booth can also be considered the tower of South African soccer. At just under six-foot-seven with a gleaming bald head, the 33-year-old is conspicuous inside the penalty area and any unstoppable attacking force will have to be at its best to fluster this immovable object.
Booth is the sole white player among the Bafana Bafana, and like Chester Williams — who was the only black player on the all-white South African Rugby team that famously won the 1995 Rugby World Cup — Booth represents a bridge built between South Africans of all colours, once divided by fear and hate but now united under the glow of the Rainbow nation.
His most famous moment: Booth's most famous moment did not occur on the pitch, but on a stage in front of hundreds of millions as he took part in the draw for this summer's World Cup.
He said it: "Obviously we're the underdogs. But at last year’s Nations Cup we only lost to Brazil and Spain by one goal. If we can play the way we did then, we stand a chance."
What they're saying about him: "I realized he's not your average pompous soccer player. He's actually quite cool." — Sonia Pule, Matthew Booth's wife
Here's an interesting fact: Booth and his family — his wife Sonia and two children Noah and Nathan — have been highly visible in South Africa leading up to the tournament, in cellphone and sport drinks advertising campaigns.