JOHANNESBURG – South African football legend Philemon ‘Chippa’ Masinga, who succumbed to an illness a week ago, was on Monday described by his children as “loving and caring”.
Masinga’s pile-driver against Congo, which sent Bafana Bafana to their first ever Fifa World Cup finals in France 1998, remains memorable for football fans.
In his prime, Masinga played in the English Premier League for Leeds United, and Italian Serie A for Salernitana and Bari.
The yesteryear soccer star Masinga died in hospital on 13 January at the age of 49.
Speaking at her father’s memorial service at the Grace Bible Church in Pimville, Soweto, Tinyiko said: “Our father loved us so much and he was not afraid to show, he always had a smile and he was such an entertaining character”.
Holding back tears, she added: “There was never a dull moment around him, it’s very hard losing a loved one.
“Losing our dad was not something that anyone can prepare us for. We loved him more than words can express, and we will always keep him in our hearts.”
She also found strength to comfort her young sister, Tatiana.
“The death of our dad has made us to appreciate time and the loved ones in our lives. He taught us so much, but the greatest of lessons was the value of humanity.
“We will always love you papa and continue to make you proud,” said an emotional Tinyiko.
Soccer legend and former Bafana Bafana teammate Lucas Radebe said: “When it comes to death, when it’s someone who is close to you... it’s difficult.”
Radebe was at Leeds with Masinga, where they met and overcame tough challenges overseas. “Football sometimes isn’t as glamorous as it seems, and having Phil at Leeds made it that much easier for me,” said Radebe.
The football fraternity at home and overseas were equally taken aback by the passing of the former Jomo Cosmos and Mamelodi Sundowns striker affectionately known as ‘Chippa’ during his playing days.
Struggling to stay composed, Radebe said: “I called someone connected to Leeds to share the news that Phil had passed on, and he literally started sobbing uncontrollably... even later saying he was heading to drown his sorrows at a bar.
“That is the impact that Phil had on people wherever he went, he was loved by everyone.”
The two were both signed by Leeds United in 1994 and spent two years together in England’s top-flight, before the striker made a switch to St Gallen in Switzerland.
Among those who were in attendance were former Bafana Bafana coaches Screamer Tshabalala, Augusto Palacios, Trott Moloto, Pitso Mosimane and Shakes Mashaba, SA Football Association president Danny Jordaan and Masinga’s former teammates, who included Mark Fish and Andre Arendse.
Masinga played 58 times for the national team, scoring 18 goals.
He leaves behind four children, and wife Ntombi Nombewu.
Masinga will be laid to rest on Thursday in an official provincial funeral in Stilfontein, North West.
African News Agency (ANA)