Mark Fish

Sports Speaker - Pretoria
Mark Fish

 

Mark Fish is a retired South African footballer who made his international debut at the age of 19, representing South Africa in the African Nations Cup, the World Cup in France and the Four Nations Cup.

Born in Cape Town, Fish started his career in his native South Africa under the guidance of renowned coach Steve Coetsee, playing for Arcadia Shepherds, an amateur team based at the Caledonian Stadium in Pretoria. Mark was spotted by then Jomo Cosmos coach Roy Matthews and turned professional as a striker. It was at Cosmos that Mark was converted into a left back and went on to become one of the most promising defenders in South Africa at the time.

In 1994 Fish was signed by Orlando Pirates after Cosmos were relegated. At Pirates Mark arguably played the best football of his career under the tutelage of Mike Makaab. He also won the league championship at Pirates, as well as the BP Top Eight Cup in 1994, the 1995 African Champions League and the 1995 Bobsave Super Bowl (then the premier cup in South Africa). Mark captained The Buccaneers when they beat JS Kabylie in the 1996 CAF Super Cup.[1] In the same year he was part of the history making South African national team to have won the African Cup of Nations at the first attempt after South Africa's readmission to FIFA in 1992.

Soon foreign scouts came knocking and Mark was signed by Lazio of Italy, after he turned down an opportunity to play for his boyhood club, Manchester United. However, he did move to England after just one season at Lazio to become the highest paid player at Bolton Wanderers. Fish was a mainstay in Bolton's back four for much of their first season back in the Premiership, Mark received praise from both teammates and those whom he played against, most notably Manchester United forward Andrew Cole. Despite Fish's efforts Bolton were relegated on the last day of the season despite having accumulated 40 points, normally enough to stave off the drop. Once playing back in the lower leagues Fish applied himself well, quickly gaining a cult status amongst the Bolton faithful, backed up by his nickname "Feesh", and a particularly eyecatching headgear in the shape of a giant Blue fish being made available in club stores. However, new suitors soon came calling, and only after the appointment of Sam Allardyce did Fish's star begin to fall in Lancashire. Fish soon followed his Danish teammate Claus Jensen and at Alan Curbishley's second time of asking moved to Charlton Athletic in a £700,000 move in November 2000. "The Big Fish" as he was affectionately known throughout his playing career went on to make 102 Premiership appearances for the Addicks, scoring three times.

In 2005, he began to fall out of favour at Charlton. He went on to have a very short loan spell (45 mins) at Ipswich Town in the 2005–06 season but a severe cruciate ligament injury led to Fish announcing his retirement.

Fish returned to football when he signed a six-month contract with his first club Jomo Cosmos in early 2007 but did not play an official game due to his low level of fitness.

He was one of the team captains in the fifth season of the M-Net reality competition series Survivor South Africa, in 2014. The opposing captain was former Springbok captain Corné Krige.

Mark was one of eight celebrities who competed in the second season of the SABC2 reality competition Strictly Come Dancing. He and his partner Hayley Bennett were the third couple voted out of the competition.

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