Monday, January 14, 2019

Tribute To Sport Legend Phil 'Chippa' Masinga

Marcel Desailly tackles Phil Masinga (L) during a 1998 World Cup group match in Marseille.
"We have lost a giant of South African football," said football association president Danny Jordaan. "This is a sad day and I am gutted. "I saw him last Sunday before I flew to Dakar (for Confederation of African Football activities) and although Phil was not feeling well, he was in good spirits. "Before saying goodbye, I promised 'Chippa' that I would visit him again sometime this week and now our hero is gone." A physically formidable forward, he scored the goal that beat Congo Brazzaville 1-0 in Soweto and took Bafana Bafana (The Boys) to the 1998 World Cup in France. Masinga ran on to a pass from midfield and slammed an unstoppable shot over the Congolese goalkeeper before a capacity 80,000 crowd, including then president Nelson Mandela. Masinga was part of the South African 'golden generation' that won the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations just four years after an apartheid-induced international ban was lifted. 


Bafana qualified for the 1998 and 2002 World Cup tournaments, but the national team has been in steady decline since. He played for local clubs Jomo Cosmos and Mamelodi Sundowns before moving abroad in 1994 to join Leeds United, then a top-flight English club. Masinga also played for St Gallen in Switzerland, Salernitana and Bari in Italy and Al Wahda in the United Arab Emirates.Former South Africa captain Lucas Radebe says the country has lost a "legend" following his compatriot Phil Masinga's death aged 49. 

Masinga played with Radebe at Leeds United between 1994 and 1996 and also had spells at St Gallen in Switzerland and Italian clubs Salernitana and Bari. "He lost his fight against cancer which is very, very sad for us as a football fraternity," said Radebe. "We are mourning the loss of a great legend." Former central defender Radebe and striker Masinga were both signed by Leeds in 1994. "For us as Africans it was a great experience,". "We weren't used to the weather and we struggled a little bit - we kept each other warm at times. "Phil was a big hit with the team and the players.I looked up to him and I think he inspired me the most. It was absolutely great the way he adapted to the situation. "He was easy to get along with and he was most respected at the club as a person." 'One of the nicest kindest guys I've met' Masinga made his debut for South Africa in July 1992 against Cameroon in his country's first match following their readmission to international football by Fifa after the end of Apartheid.

He will best be remembered for his goal against Congo, which ensured South Africa qualified for their first World Cup appearance in 1998. "Very sad news for South African football. We lost a true football legend in Phil 'Chippa' Masinga," said former South Africa and Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar. "He paved the way for all South African footballers in the UK. That goal at FNB stadium that took us to our first World Cup will always be on my mind.

African legends (L-R) Abede Pele of Ghana, George Weah of Liberia, Kalusha Bwalya of Zambia and Phil Masinga of South Africa at the Vergelegen Wine Estate Dinner during the FIFA Technical Inspection Tour of South Africa on 03 November 2003 in Cape Town, South Africa: Getty image.
RIP Legend." Masinga was also a member of the victorious 1996 Africa Cup of Nations squad. "Sad day for South African football," said South Africa Football Association president Danny Jordaan. "He was a loyal servant of the game, on and off the field of play." South Africa's Premier Soccer League called a moment of silence at all its matches in honour of the former forward. Bari also held a period of silence before their game against Sancataldese on Sunday 13 January 2019.

Masinga made 31 league appearances for Leeds, scoring five goals. "It is with great sadness that the club has learnt of former striker Phil Masinga's passing," said a statement from the Elland Road club. "The thoughts of everyone at LUFC are with his family and friends." Noel Whelan played alongside Masinga at the Elland Road club and said it was "really sad news". "He was not just a friend and strike partner but one of the nicest kindest guys I've met," added Whelan. "It was a pleasure and privilege to have known and played with you Phil."


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