CAPE TOWN, January 14 – Phil ‘Chippa’ Masinga’s untimely passing on Sunday 13 January 2019 has stunned South Africa, with tributes pouring in from all corners of the nation for the much loved former Bafana Bafana striker.
During the heady days of South Africa’s transition from the apartheid era into the optimism of the rainbow nation, Masinga played his part in uniting the country by making a sizable contribution to Bafana Bafana winning the African Nations Cup in 1996, not to mention his wonder goal which booked the national team’s ticket to the 1998 World Cup in France.
“We had 90 000 fans at FNB Stadium when we played Congo Brazzaville that day, I remember that day very well,” Masinga said in an interview in 2012. “I scored the winning goal, but the most exciting thing for me was seeing South Africans united.
“We had the whole nation behind us; the political heads were there, the media supported us and we had no-one against us. It was very exciting to see the nation holding hands singing in one voice. I drove straight home in Klerksdorp after the match to celebrate with my friends because some of them couldn’t make it to the stadium.”
Masinga was a true inspiration to South Africans and his goal-scoring exploits for Jomo Cosmos and Mamelodi Sundowns provided the platform for a successful career in Europe as he went on to play in England’s Premier League for Leeds United before a brief stint in Switzerland with St Gallen and later a four year spell in Italy’s Serie A with Bari.
Hailing from the small town of Stilfontein (near Klerksdorp) in the North West Province, the gentle giant of a man showed that despite his humble background, it was possible to conquer the world, and tributes have been pouring in from all spheres for the legendary target-man, who succumbed to cancer at 49-years-old.
Said Professor Tebogo Job Mokgoro, Premier of the North West Province: “South Africans will forever remember him as a talented soccer player, in particular, for his performance as a striker for the famous side that claimed Bafana Bafana’s first and only AFCON trophy in 1996, as well as his goal that booked Bafana Bafana a ticket to the FIFA World Cup held in 1998 in France.”
“May those loving memories ease our pain and bring us comfort. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time, and may his soul rest in peace.”
The country’s ruling political party, the African National Congress (ANC) also paid their respects to the fallen giant of South African football.
“The African National Congress dips its banners in solemn remembrance of a soccer legend and a role model, Philemon “Chippa” Masinga, at the news of his passing,” read a statement released on Sunday.
“Masinga distinguished himself on the soccer field as a true patriot who flew South Africa’s flag high and represented the nation in foreign lands with pride. Having earned more than 50 caps for Bafana Bafana and his impressive record in the field of play earned him a place in the hall of fame and became a fitting role model for South Africa’s youth.
“We send our deepest condolences to his family, friends and the entire football fraternity. The nation is indeed poorer without him. We call upon our youth to pick up his spear and emulate his example and serve the nation with pride and dignity.”
Tsepo Mhlongo MP, the Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Sport and Recreation, again reiterated what an inspirational figure Masinga has been to South Africans.
“Masinga has left an indelible mark in the sporting fraternity and he serves as an inspiring example to us all that one’s background should not hinder how far they go in life,” Mhlongo said via a statement.
“The DA extends its condolences to Masinga’s family and all who knew him during this time. His passing is a tragic loss for our country and he will be sorely missed. Lala Ngoxolo Shobane, you have run your race.”
Masinga played in 58 matches for his country, scoring 18 goals. (ANA)