Homesick Tokelo Rantie determined to settle on the south coast

Rantie’s career began after he answered a talent-spotting advertisement on the internet 

Loneliness isn’t something you would usually associate with professional footballers who play in front of thousands of fans every week. Yet four months after becoming Bournemouth’s record signing when he joined from Swedish club Malmo for £2m, South African striker Tokelo Rantie admits it’s not been an easy transition.

“I’m here on my own so it’s been really tough,” he says ahead of Bournemouth’s FA Cup third-round match at home to Burton Albion Saturday. “My family are all back home in South Africa and my mother is sick but we make sure we stay in touch and I’m on Skype all the time with them. In football, you have to go through a lot of things in order to reach the top. You have to deal with the loneliness but my experience when I was younger means I am able to cope with the situation.”

Rantie’s story is an unusual one. Raised in the remote town of Parys in the Free State, he was playing for local amateur side Dangerous Darkies and planning for a career as a chartered accountant when he spotted an internet advert to join the Stars of Africa academy, established by ex-Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach Farouk Khan.

“I’d just finished my school exams and was waiting for the bursary for university to come through,” he remembers. “Where I’ve come from there’s nothing in terms of scouting – you have to do it for yourself. That’s how I ended up finding about Stars of Africa. They invited me over for a trial and liked me so I came to live in the academy in Johannesburg.”

Within 12 months, Rantie was playing in Mozambique’s First Division before having his first taste of European football when he joined Malmo. A successful loan spell at feeder club IFK Hassleholm earned him a place in their first-team squad and a first international call-up for South Africa. But with French side St-Étienne and Middlesbrough vying for his signature in the summer, Rantie instead chose to move to the Cherries.

“I chose Bournemouth because I thought it was the best place for me to learn the English game,” he says. “I came and met the manager [Eddie Howe] and he told me about the history of the club and said that he wanted to help me develop as a player. That made it easier for me to decide. It’s an ambitious club who want to make a name for themselves and so do I.”

A return of just one goal so far is not exactly the start he had in mind on the pitch. But Rantie, who also intends to resume his accountancy studies, is convinced he is finding his feet despite the pressure of his price-tag.

“They’ve put a lot of faith in me but money is not a factor. A player has to deliver on the pitch and it’s nothing to do with how much he cost. There is some pressure on me but if I think about that all the time I’d be worrying about satisfying other people rather than playing my game. Once I’ve settled in, I’m going to be unstoppable.”

It was that kind of self-belief that helped South Africa record an unlikely victory over world champions Spain in a friendly in November. The 1-0 win has been hailed as their best results since the days of Benni McCarthy – who Rantie played with at South African side Orlando Pirates last year during a short loan spell.

“When I was a kid I had a big poster of him on my wall. I used to worship him. I still believe that there’s no one like him,” Rantie says. “He guided me with a lot of things and spoke a lot about his career in Europe.”

If he can achieve half as much as McCarthy – who won the Champions League for Porto under Jose Mourinho before moving on to Blackburn Rovers – accountancy’s loss will be football’s gain.

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environmentGardeners rally round the endangered bumblebee
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
Arts & Entertainment
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
musicBest exclusives coming to an independent record shop near you this Record Store Day
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit