Bafana Bafana head coach Ephraim Shakes Mashaba says he has been deeply saddened by the death of John Lesiba “Shoes” Moshoeu. On Wednesday, 22 April, Mashaba, accompanied by some staff members from the South African Football Association (SAFA), went to pay his last respects at the home of the former Bafana Bafana star who passed away on Tuesday afternoon (21 April) after a long illnes. Mashaba says: ‘First of all our condolences to the family, especially the mother of the late legend, who was on his bedside from the moment he was ill until the last minute. Also to all his former colleagues, coaches and players who worked and played with him and also supported him in his hour of need. May the Almighty bless them, guide them and lead them during this difficult period. When a giant falls, everything shakes and that ends up being a pain that everyone is going through now – not just in South Africa but even overseas because he made his name there. Unfortunately many saw his skills late – they should have seen him when he was at Giant Blackpool and at the time I was coach of Vaal Reefs FC. He was a dazzling player, and with due respect to all the players at Blackpool back then, without him the club would not have achieved a lot. Those were the days he was at his best. Even when he moved to bigger clubs like Chiefs, he never lost his sparkle. I used to call him a dressing room player. Where Shoes was, there was always peace; there was always commitment and passion. He was a very good dresser, a very flamboyant person. You would always love to be with him. When there were problems in the camp he would always be the peacemaker, saying let’s forget about this and focus on the job at hand, which is playing football. He was always a very respectful person – whether you were young or old, Shoes gave respect and that is why he earned the respect of many. Shoes was a role model, lived a clean life that is why he managed to play well beyond 40 years of age. I think we missed out on something here; we needed to find out how he did it so we can teach the current and coming generations. We saw the best of him on that day (AFCON 1996). We need to document the history of such players, place them somewhere so people can read about it, not Google it. If current players can emulate him we would never worry about any player because the commitment was there. Here is a player who played his part, we must just accept that he is gone and be glad the pain he suffered is no more, so we can get closure. To the family, we know you are in pain at the loss of your beloved son but with time it will heal.’
National sports umbrella body, SASCOC has joined the tributes and are mourning the passing of one of the country’s football greats. SASCOC CEO Tubby Reddy says: ‘These are very hard times for South African sport right now. We can only hope that our sportsmen and women and South Africa as a nation can get the strength to work through this sad loss and come back stronger in the long term. In just a few months we have now lost four sportsmen. Our thoughts go out to Moshoeu’s family and friends as well as the football community.’ SASCOC President Gideon Sam added: ‘Shoes was a shining light in South African football. His ball skills were an absolute joy to watch and he entertained the nation, indeed the continent, with his unique talents. Hopefully the next generation of young footballers will still look up to him as an inspiration to reach the top of their sport. May his soul rest in peace and our hearts are with his family, friends and the South African football family.’
Former South Africa captain Lucas Radebe and The South African Football Association (SAFA) led the tributes to former the Bafana Bafana midfield maestro on Tuesday the at Morningside Clinic in Sandton. The 49-year old Moshoeu had been battling cancer for some time and was in and out of hospital in the past few months. SAFA President, Dr Danny Jordaan who together with former Bafana Bafana captain Lucas Radebe visited Moshoeu at the Sandton Clinic on Monday evening said he was shocked by the news.
Jordaan says: ‘I saw him on Monday evening when I visited him at the Clinic and although he was not in good shape, he recognised me and even spoke a bit; little did I know that this was some way of him saying goodbye. Our deepest condolences to his family and friends for their loss, hope they find strength in these difficult times. As the Association, the passing on of this legend saddens us.’ Radebe, who played with Moshoeu both at Kaizer Chiefs and at Bafana Bafana said he had lost a friend whom he had known from childhood: ‘When I saw him struggling on Monday, I was heartbroken but I still expected that a fighter Shoes was, he would pull through. What an exemplary figure he was on and off the pitch. He lived a clean life – never smoked or drank, exercised religiously and this happens. Anyway that is life; we are never masters of our destiny.’ Jordaan added: ‘Today everyone talks about the Class of ‘96 because the likes of Shoes made it famous. They got into the history books by lifting the title alongside other stalwarts like Mark Fish, Lucas Radebe, Phil Masinga, Neil Tovey, David Nyathi, Andre Arendse and the late Sizwe Motaung, among others. These are the players who put our country on the map and we will forever be indebted to them for what they did for this country. These players have been an inspiration to our current crop of players. Shoes was a genius on the field, an intelligent man off it. He was humble and always willing to give advice. He will be remembered for almost single-handedly defeating Ghana in South Africa’s path to lifting the 1996 AFCON title. We have certainly lost a hero. What saddens us more is that just the other day we were mourning the passing away of Richard Henyekane, and also attended the memorial service for the late Kalamazoo Mokone – the tears have hardly dried up and now this.’
The Premier Soccer League (PSL), CEO, Brand De Villiers also paid tribute to the late former Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs legedn. During his colourful career, the 49-year old Moshoeu played for Turkish giants, Fenerbahce, Busarspor and Genclerbirligi. De Villiers said: ‘Shoes belonged to a certain generation of footballers that will always have a special place in the hearts of many South Africans. He was a great ambassador for South Africa. We will always remember and treasure memories of his life be it at Kaizer Chiefs, AmaZulu or with Bafana Bafana. On behalf of the clubs and PSL family, we would like to send our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the Moshoeu family during this difficult moment.’
The memorial service of Moshoeu will be held on Friday at Grace Bible Church in Soweto at 12 noon and details of the funeral will be revealed on the same day.
Photo credit: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix