Tears flowed as the South African football fraternity gathered to celebrate the life of the former Kaizer Chiefs and Maritzburg United goal-minder, Arthur Bartman.
Bartman passed away last week Tuesday. His memorial service was held this morning at City Hall in Pietermaritzburg where he was born and bred.
The hall was full to capacity with current and former footballers from various Premier Soccer League clubs.
Maritzburg United, AmaZulu, Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns were amongst those who shared their final tribute to Bartman.
Bartman passed away at the age of 47. He recently just go married to his wife, Kim in December. He left nine siblings.
His young brother, Michael couldn't hold back tears as he spoke on the podium about the good memories he shared with Arthur. It was the same with his aunt, Mavis Mckenzie and his sister, Jacqui. That's how special he was to his family.
Itumeleng Khune who worked with Bartman during his spell with Amakhosi explained that they never lost that bond even after the Pietermaritzburg born keeper left Amakhosi.
"Today is a very sad day. It is Arthur's birthday. It is also his memorial service. We had a very close relationship even after the years we spent together. We still managed to communicate. That's the bond we created when we were still playing at Kaizer Chiefs. He will surely be missed and may his soul rest in peace, " Khune said.
Bartman will be laid to rest on Saturday in East London.
"He was always helpful. He didn't mind whether he was second choice to me or not, yet he was older than me. He was very helpful because whatever we were doing, we were doing it for the club and not for our own glory. Those are the words that he always reminded me off. He was selfless. There was a time when coach Rainer Dinkelacker, will be sick and he won't pitch up at work and he will take over and be a goalkeeper coach. He didn't mind missing out on the session, train us and better other goalkeepers, " Khune added.
Bartman retired in 2013. He played for several PSL clubs during his career. He represented African Wanderers, Dynamos, Maritzburg United, SuperSport United, Bay United, Lamontville Golden Arrows and Chiefs. When he quit playing he became goalkeeper coach for the Team of Choice.
Goalkeeper coach at Sundowns, Wendel Robinson, was also devastated by the loss of Bartman.
"We grew up together with Arthur and I'm also from here in Pietermaritzburg. A lot of people don't know that. We were at the same age. We were always competing from a young age. He was from Eastwood and I was from Woodlands. So, there's was always that rivalry from us. We made our PSL debuts the same year in 1997. He was at African Wanderers and I was at Moroka Swallows. We always had a good relationship. I was sad on the news that he passed away. I didn't expect that he was going to pass away because he was a fighter. " Robinson elaborated.@minenhlecr7