Quinton Fortune joined Manchester United in the summer of 1999, originally as cover for Ryan Giggs. However, the South African only made 88 appearances for the Reds in seven years, as he struggled with injuries and failed to break through to the first team reckoning before eventually departing in the summer of 2006.
Fortune first came to the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson with his performances for Atlético Madrid’s B team, which earned him a £1.5 million move to Old Trafford. It marked his return to England, with the man from Cape Town having spent his formative years at Tottenham Hotspur while attending school in north-east London.
Fortune had failed to make the grade at White Hart Lane, and troubles with obtaining a work permit meant that a move to Spain was made to kick start his professional footballing career with stints at Mallorca and Atlético. Although he made a number of appearances in La Liga for both teams, he never managed to truly break into the first team of either side, but during his time at Atlético Fortune managed to get into South Africa’s squad for the 1998 World Cup, where he started all three games in France for Bafana Bafana.
Fortune’s move to United came out the blue, as he was a virtual unknown to many before his arrival. Originally, Fortune was brought in as cover on the left-hand side for Giggs, and a direct replacement for the injury-ridden Jesper Blomqvist. The South African was thought of as a attacking winger, but during his fairly lengthy spell at Old Trafford, he became a utility player, playing in all sorts of positions. Sir Alex depended mostly on his defensive strengths, and Fortune often played in central midfield or at left-back. In many ways, Fortune was the original John O’Shea – the man who could play everywhere.
Despite spending most of his prime years at United, the South African was plagued by injuries, and once Gabriel Heinze joined the club in the summer of 2004, Fortune’s chances of ever cementing a first team place were gone and his days were numbered. To cap off his miserable Fortunes (pardon the pun), he was part of three Premier League winning squads (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2002-03) but never played the minimum of 10 games needed to get a winner’s medal. However, he did eventually get a medal, although even that medal was given on special dispensation grounds due to the fact that he had been denied one so many times previously.
Fortune was released at the end of the 2005-06 season, and after a successful trial with Bolton Wanderers, was given a contract at the start of the 2006-07 season. Initially, he cemented his place as the first choice left-back. However, his terrible Fortunes (apologies) with injuries continued, and he was released at the end of the season after making a total of seven appearances for the club.
Further unsuccessful spells with Italian club Brescia and Belgian club Tubize followed before Fortune returned to England, signing a short-term deal with Doncaster Rovers. Although he started off well, scoring a dramatic equaliser against Ipswich in the Championship, his performances tailed off and his contract was not renewed when it came an end in February 2010.
Following his retirement as a player, Fortune returned to United to train with the reserve team while working towards his coaching badges, which he completed in 2013. In the summer of 2014, Fortune was appointed manager of Cardiff City’s development team, working under former teammate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, before leaving in February of this year.
Fortune could have achieved so much more in his career – a feisty and dependable player; injuries meant that he was never able to put together a good run of games at any club he played at. Despite this, he did have a relatively successful international career, making almost 50 caps for Bafana Bafana, scoring two goals, including a late equaliser against Paraguay in the 2002 World Cup.