Ian McLeod shares a lighter moment with then-Maritzburg United coach Roger de Sa in February at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

South African Football Association chief executive Dennis Mumble has described the late Ian McLeod as a true gentleman who will be sorely missed by the football family.

Paying tribute to the decorated former referee who died on Thursday after he was admitted to hospital on October 15 – a day after he returned from the match between Black Leopards and Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila in Thohoyandou – Mumble said the game had lost an honest individual who had no time for pettiness.

McLeod was the match commissioner in the match between the two Venda clubs, and upon his return, he felt sick.

He was rushed to hospital the following day by his wife, and although his condition was described as on and off, he passed away on Thursday evening.

“Ian was a perfect gentleman, never angry with anyone and always smiling. He will be extremely missed by the entire football family. We are really saddened by the passing away of Ian,” said Mumble.

The Safa CEO said the late McLeod was one of the few highly decorated referees, having been the first South African to officiate at a Fifa World Cup in 1998 in France.

After hanging up his whistle, he continued to be involved in the game.

At the time of his death, McLeod was part of the Caf club licensing instructors, was acting as Safa’s head of referees, and was greatly involved in the restructuring of the referees department, together with other ex-officials.

McLeod was responsible for the appointment of all of the lower division’s match officials, and was in the process of putting together a panel of officials to handle indoor and five-a-side football.

“This is a huge loss, and the void left will be difficult to fill,” added Mumble.

“I had known Ian for over 20 years – we travelled together when we were doing the club licensing courses on the continent – this man was a gentleman through and through.

“We have lost an asset as a country. May his soul rest in peace.”

Safa Media