Local soccer maven Alan Merrick was nice enough to e-mail a link to a very good read from BBC Sport on Ace Ntsoelengoe, a soccer player with whom Minnesotans should be familiar (pictured, left). If you are not -- and the BBC says he could be "the greatest player you never saw" -- then please familiarize yourself. Here are a few grafs to get you started:

The sporting boycott of South Africa in the 1970s and 80s deprived a generation of sportsmen and women a chance to show off their skills on the world stage. But while the lost talent of cricketers such as Graeme Pollock and Barry Richards is often discussed, the finest South African footballers of that period are barely mentioned.

And few players from that lost generation were better than Patrick 'Ace' Ntsoelengoe.

"If Ace was here now, he'd be spoken of in the same breath as Fernando Torres, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi," former South Africa coach Clive Barker told BBC Sport. "When you write the book of South African football history, right up there at the very top would have to be the king himself, Ace. "

Midfielder Ntsoelengoe spent his playing career hopping between Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa and the North American Soccer League (NASL), where he spent 11 years playing for a variety of teams, most significantly Minnesota Kicks and Toronto Blizzard. Barker coached the Chiefs' rivals Amazulu when Ntsoelengoe was at his peak, and still remembers his talent with awe.

"He was the type of player you could plan everything around - there was one cup final we played against the Chiefs where he managed to control the ball and produce such a stunning shot from an angle that bent inside the far post that I actually stood up and applauded him."

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