Former Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann is following in the footsteps of football star-turned-actor Eric Cantona with his first acting role in Stefanie Sycholt’s Themba.

Lehman, who now plays for VfB Stuttgart, has been cast as football talent scout, John Jacobs. The film is currently shooting in South Africa.

Based on the novel of the same name by German-Dutch writer Lutz van Dijk, Sycholt’s film follows eleven year-old Themba (whose name means hope) as he journeys from a poor background to playing for Bafana Bafana, the South African national football team.

The cast is made up of a mix of non-professionals, newcomers and well-known South African actors such as Patrick Mofokeng and Anelisa Phewa and rising singer Simphiwe Dana, with Junior Singo in the lead role as Themba.

The German-South African co-production between Zeitsprung Entertainment and Rheingold Films with DO Productions is shooting in English and the local Xhosa language.

The producers are planning to release Themba internationally next summer to coincide with the World Cup in South Africa.

Former Manchester United and France footballer Cantona has an extended cameo appearance in Ken Loach’s upcoming Looking For Eric, which is due to be released across Europe this summer.