On the pitch, Keryn Jordan will always be remembered for his prolific goal-scoring record. Off the pitch, his friends and family will remember him as a loyal, generous, and humble man.
The former Bafana Bafana striker died this week at the age of 37, after a long battle with cancer, leaving behind his wife, Sherry, and son, Liam.
Jordan was first diagnosed 13 years ago. It started as a melanoma but spread to his brain and other parts of his body.
He earned one cap in his home country, playing in Bafana Bafana’s 2-1 win over Botswana in 1999.
During his career Jordan played for Pretoria City (now SuperSport United), Manning Rangers and Moroka Swallows before moving to New Zealand in 2004, where he was named Auckland City’s Player of the Season in 2005/06 and 2007/08. He also played for Waitakere United.
He scored 76 goals in 100 games in New Zealand before retiring in 2010 due to a combination of recurring knee problems and illness.
He returned to South Africa earlier this year to continue his treatment.
Jordan’s sister Lezanne Campbell said his death has hit the family very hard.
“Quitting was never an option for any of us and as much as we understood that his body was failing him, we continued to believe in miracles.
“Keryn was the one who calmed our fears and negated our doubts. Life feels very empty without him.
“For the past 12 years, we have been focused on beating cancer and defeat is difficult to accept.”
Lezanne added that it had been a horrendous few years for the family.
“Sherry has been through more agony, heartbreak and physical stress than most people endure in a lifetime.
“As his big sister, I have always been his protector, looking out for him and supporting him. But I have been helpless against the cancer.”
Lezanne said she had spoken to her brother last week when they discussed details about a book he was writing.
“He asked me to complete it for him. Keryn had mapped out 10 chapters and completed five of them.”
“I had so much that I needed to ask him. Questions that he was unable to answer. Brain cancer is the cruellest disease. It robs people of their most basic abilities and Keryn found it incredibly frustrating that words did not come as easily to him as they used to.
“He would have ideas but would forget them as soon as they came to him. One of the final chapters Keryn had planned to write was titled ‘The light at the end of the tunnel’.
“My last question to him was, ‘what is the light at the end of the tunnel for you, Ker?’ He replied that it was everybody accepting that he was going to die and being able to get on with living life.”
Lezanne said she had enjoyed many memorable moments with her brother and it was difficult to choose one that stood out. “I guess it would be the expression on his face when he saw my children…”
As a sibling, Lezanne said Jordan was like her best friend. “We went on long bike rides to faraway places … on adventures. He challenged me constantly. I still have scars on my knees from an attempt to beat him down a hill on roller-skates.
“He was tactile and loving, generous and funny. He has a special bond with my mom and the two of them were constantly playing pranks on us.
“Keryn was exceptionally skilled in sports and I have him to thank for being diligent at schoolwork because I could never have competed in the physical arena.
“He patiently coached me in golf. I narrowly avoided a shattered eye socket on one of those occasions, looking too closely at his technique.”
Reaz Moorad, the former developmental coach of Manning Rangers, who worked with Jordan, said he was struggling to come to terms with his death.”It is very difficult ... we’re struggling,” he said.
Moorad first met Jordan in 1996 when he signed for Manning Rangers.
“Back then I remember this fresh-faced kid – he was only about 20 years old then – turning up to the Rangers training sessions and playing with such confidence you would think he was an experienced international player.
“Whenever he played, he would always make something happen, be it a save that the goalkeeper had to make or his strikes ending up being deflected for a corner kick. You always knew that something was going to happen when Keryn got the ball near the goal.”
One of Jordan’s childhood friends, who declined to be named, said she had been left heartbroken by his death.
“He positively affected so many people lives, it is a great loss to many.”
His friend said Jordan had asked her to help him write a book a few months ago.
“I was happy to oblige,’ she said. I cannot take any credit for it, I merely helped him with a bit of structure and direction as I have done a lot of writing in my career.
“He did a bit at home and then we decided he should come visit me and my family in Jeffreys Bay, where I live, so we could get more done.
“He had written quite a few chapters by the time he left here and the rest had already been plotted. I had sent the starting chapters to a few publishers and we had already received some interest.”
Jordan decided to write a book to secure a future income for Sherry and Liam, as well as share the experience of living with cancer and playing professional soccer.
“It is going to be an incredible story. I cannot wait to read the rest. It has the working title of The Ultimate Goal by Keryn Jordan but that may change,” said his friend.
Jordan’s memorial service will be held at the Brooklyn Methodist Church, Murray Street, Pretoria, on Tuesday, October 29 at 11.30am. - Saturday Star