JOHANNESBURG – Legendary Bafana Bafana striker Phil Masinga’s death has been described as a great loss to South African football.
He died yesterday at the age of 49. Masinga had been ill for some time, but his passing nevertheless came as a big shock to the South African football family.
Masinga played 58 matches for the national team, and will always be treasured for scoring the goal against Congo in 1997 that secured South Africa’s first World Cup appearance in 1998.
“South Africa, the sporting fraternity and football in particular is today poorer, death be not proud”, said President Cyril Ramaphosa on learning of the passing of Masinga.
“We shall forever be grateful to Philemon “Chippa” Masinga, as he was affectionately known, for being part of a collective in his deserved call ups, to Bafana Bafana. A collective that helped put South Africa back on the international stage when he scored the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifier goal”.
Minister of Sport and Recreation, Tokozile Xasa, sent condolences to Masinga’s family, saying: “Phil Masinga, not only must he be remembered as a great footballer, but as an ambassador for the game and our country. He is among the first players to play in a major league. His success in Europe inspired many generations of footballers to follow his lead.”
South African Football Association (Safa) President Danny Jordaan said the country had lost a giant of South African football.
“I am really gutted. I saw him last Sunday before I flew to Dakar, and although he was not feeling well he was in good spirits and I promised to visit him again sometime this week, and now our hero is gone.
Phil was a loyal servant of the game, on and off the field of play. His goal against Congo, which took us (South Africa) to our first World Cup in France in 1998, is still the most celebrated goal in the country to date.”
Doctor Khumalo, himself a Bafana legend, said: “It’s a sad moment for South African football and throughout the world because he was internationally known. I’d like to thank the Masinga family for giving us the opportunity to be around Chippa.
To me, especially, he might have made me who I am today. Remember in the game, when you give the final pass, the finisher is the most important person and he is the one that made me look better. He is the one that made people recognise who I am.”
Former Bafana captain Lucas Radebe, who shared many glorious moments with Masinga for South Africa and English Premiership team Leeds United, said Masinga had “rare qualities”.
“It is a great loss to South African football. He had rare qualities. He made an impact wherever he was. He was very straightforward. He always said what he felt, whether it was negative or positive. That’s what I liked about him. Phil had a great heart. When we needed him, he delivered.
“South Africa didn’t only lose the talent of Phil, but lost somebody who would have given back to South African football in many different ways. He would have inspired a lot of youngsters. I’m still shocked at his loss.”
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