Lebogang Lelani Phiri (born 9 November 1994) is a South African professional footballer who plays for French Ligue 1 club EA Guingamp and the South Africa national team. Phiri is capable of playing in several midfield positions, but is usually deployed by his club and national sides as a central midfielder, in the role of a deep-lying playmaker.
Phiri with Brøndby in 2016
|Full name||Lebogang Lelani Phiri|
|Date of birth||9 November 1994|
|Place of birth||Johannesburg, South Africa|
|Height||1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)|
|2008–2009||Shooting Stars Sports Concepts|
|2016–||South Africa U23||3||(1)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 20:42, 6 July 2019 (UTC)|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 13 October 2019 (UTC)
Phiri joined Brøndby IF's under-19 team on 8 February 2013 on a long-term eighteen months loan from the youth academy of South African side Bidvest Wits. He soon became a member of the first team, claiming a spot as a defensive midfielder in the line-up, due to injuries and suspensions. He made his debut (in jersey number 34) in the away game against OB on 28 April 2013 which was won 2–1. Phiri retained his spot for the remaining four games of the season in which Brøndby were undefeated while scoring twice. On 20 May 2013, he scored the last-minute winning goal against AC Horsens that made Brøndby avoid relegation from the Danish Superliga.
He had a rough start on the season as Brøndby IF decided to sign Martin Ørnskov as an reinforcement and replacement for him in defensive midfield. But Phiri found himself in the starting line-up after three matches with only 1 point and thereby pushed the team captain Mikkel Thygesen away from the defensive midfield in Brøndby's 4–2–3–1 system in the 2–2 away draw against Viborg on 9 August 2013. But yet again Phiri found himself back on the bench as Brøndby IF signed former Danish international Thomas Kahlenberg. He returned to the starting line-up in November playing in a 3–0 home victory against Aarhus GF.
On 31 July 2014, Phiri made his Europa League debut in the starting line-up in a 3–0 away defeat against Belgian side Club Brugge. Following a winter mid-season preparation with much playtime Phiri managed to settle as one of manager Thomas Frank's favourites which was rewarded with a call-up to the South Africa national team. He made his debut coming off the bench during the second half in the Bafana's 3–1 victory over Swaziland on 25 March 2015 which earned him a slot on the Wall of Honour at Brøndby Stadium.
Phiri started the season with a slot among the starting-11 in a 9–0 home victory against San Marino side A.C. Juvenes/Dogana in the Europa League qualification.
Phiri chose a new agent, former Danish international Søren Lerby to represent him during the forthcoming career decisions and contract negotiations. On 20 March 2016, Phiri was named MoM by both sponsors and supporters after a performance against Esbjerg fB. Afterwards, he revealed that he felt ready to take the next step in his career while being open for a contract extension with Brøndby IF.
A week later, Phiri got his South Africa under-23 debut in the starting line-up in the 3–1 defeat against Brazil under-23 during the Olympic Games 2016 preparation before being substituted off during the half time break.
Phiri crowned his season by winning the leading Brøndby dedicated media 3point.dk player of the season award, a prize based on the readers' votes after each game in the season. He had twice as many points as the club legend Daniel Agger who came in third after Frederik Rønnow.
During the pre-season Phiri represented South Africa U23 in the COSAFA Castle cup in Namibia where he started and led his team to a 3–2 win against Botswana. He scored his first U23 goal (2–1) in the 5–1 semi-final victory against Swaziland.
Phiri started contract negotiations with Brøndby after returning from COSAFA Castle Cup. Both the club and Phiri stated a common interest in an agreement but Phiri also said that he was keeping his options open. During the negotiations he revealed that Brøndby had rejected an offer from the Austria side Rapid Vienna. After weeks of negotiations Brøndby decided to put pressure on Phiri as they rejected his wish of representing his country at the Olympics 2016 in Rio without a signed contract extension.
On 30 May 2017, EA Guingamp announced that Phiri had penned a four-year-contract tying him to the club until the summer 2021.
- (—) Not qualified
|South Africa national team|
|1.||22 June 2016||Sam Nujoma Stadium, Windhoek, Namibia||2–1||5–1||2016 COSAFA Cup|
|2.||17 November 2019||Orlando Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa||1–0||1–0||2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualification|
- Sorensen, Simon Møbjerg (8 February 2013). "Brondby sign 18-year-old African" (in Danish). tipsbladet.dk. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- Said, Nick (30 April 2013). "Phiri shines in Brondby debut". The Sowetan. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- "Lebogang Phiri gets four more years at Vestegnen" (in Danish). brondby.com. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
- "New jersey numbers" (in Danish). brondby.com. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2013.
- Houlind, Søren (8 October 2013). "Phiri: I'll take my chances" (in Danish). bold.dk. Retrieved 8 October 2013.
- "Phiri aiming for Bafana call". football411.com. 11 November 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- "Starting line-up against Club Brugge" (in Danish). brondby.com. 31 July 2014. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
- "Phiri: Must keep focus" (in Danish). brondby.com. 31 July 2014. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
- "Phiri: Phiri seals the victory with a phenomenal goal against IFK GÖTEBORG" (in Danish). brondby.com. 7 February 2015. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
- "Phiri's name on the wall of honour" (in Danish). 3point.dk. 29 March 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
- "Phiri Makes His Way Onto Brondby's Wall of Fame" (in Danish). soccerladuma.co.za. 29 March 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
- "Watch the nine Brøndby goals" (in Danish). 3point.dk. 3 July 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
- "Feels ready – Brøndby-exit ahead off Phiri?" (in Danish). tipsbladet.dk. 20 March 2016. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
- "Phiri and South Africa met there bane". 28 March 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- "Phiri – Player of the season" (in Danish). 3point.dk. 31 May 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
- "Phiri and ZA wins the COSAFA Castle Cup" (in Danish). 3point.dk. 25 June 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
- "Phiri scores in ZA win" (in Danish). 3point.dk. 22 June 2016. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
- "Phiri would love to stay" (in Danish). 7 July 2016. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
- "Phiri would love to stay" (in Danish). 3point.dk. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
- "Phiri leaves" (in Danish). 28 May 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
- "Phiri signes for four years" (in French). 30 May 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
- "Like father like son for Lebo". 10 June 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2014.
- "Lebogang Phiri " Club matches". worldfootball.net. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
- Lebogang Phiri at National-Football-Teams.com
- "L. Phiri". Soccerway. Retrieved 1 December 2016.