'Gentle giant lived, breathed football' – Tributes pour in for Masinga

Pollen Ndlanya, Phil Masinga and Steve Crowley during a match between Kaizer Chiefs Legends and Orlando Pirates Legends at FNB Stadium.

Image: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

Pollen Ndlanya, Phil Masinga and Steve Crowley during a match between Kaizer Chiefs Legends and Orlando Pirates Legends at FNB Stadium.

Tributes poured in after news of the death of former Bafana Bafana player Philemon Masinga broke yesterday.

The 49-year-old will be remembered for being part of the 1996 squad that won the Africa Cup of Nations, and for scoring the goal that took SA to the World Cup in France in 1998.

Some of the clubs he played for include Jomo Cosmos, Mamelodi Sundowns, Leeds United (England) and Bari (Italy).

Clive Barker, who was Bafana coach when they qualified for the World Cup, yesterday described Masinga as a “decent player and a great leader”.

“He was an instrumental player for us and I will never forget his goal that took Bafana to France,” said Barker.

He last saw Masinga at the launch of his book last year.

“He looked healthy and he didn’t complain about anything. As usual, he was dressed to the nines. He is my third son to die after Sizwe Motaung and [Shoes] John Moshoeu. I don’t think I will sleep tonight,” he said.

His former strike partner at Bafana, Mark Williams, said Masinga was a genuinely good guy. “Phil had such a good heart. I called him not so long ago and he told me he was fine but I could tell that he was not okay,” Williams told Sowetan.

“When Sizwe Motaung passed away it was so painful for Phil because he was his best friend; now he is gone. This is such a sad day.”

Former Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana striker Pollen Ndlanya referred to him as a hero.

“He was a brother, colleague and a hero. One of the legends that has made this country proud. He took us to France to the World Cup.”Ndlanya said he had been privileged to have played alongside Masinga.

“He monitored my progress in football ,” he explained

Another former Bafana defender, Mark Fish, said: “What a tremendous loss. Phil was a gentle giant who lived and breathed football. Obviously we all knew that he was not so well but this was really unexpected.”