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South African ‘soccer legend’ Philemon Masinga dies

NAIROBI, Kenya – Reliable sources reaching Globe Afrique confirmed that former South Africa soccer star Philemon ‘Chippa’ Masinga died Sunday.  Masinga died at age 49 in a Johannesburg hospital from cancer, the South African national football association said in a statement.

Lucas Radebe, a retired South Africa captain who played with Masinga at then English top-flight club Leeds United in the 1990s, said the country had lost a “great legend.”

“For us as Africans, it was a great experience,” Radebe told the BBC. “We were not 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 a 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.”

South Africa Football Association president Danny Jordaan said: “We have lost a giant of South African football. 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 revisit him sometime this week and now our hero has gone.”
Former Leeds team-mate Noel Whelan tweeted: “Unfortunate news to learn that a guy I spent so much time with, laughs and games together, has passed away.

Phil Masinga drives pass an opponent during a soccer match

“He was not just a friend and strike partner but one of the nicest, kindest guys I’ve met, was a pleasure and privilege to have known and played with you, Phil.”

A talented forward, Masinga 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 was part of the South African ‘golden generation’ that won the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations. While playing for his country’s national side, Bafana qualified for the 1998 and 2002 World Cup tournaments.

Before moving abroad in 1994 to join Leeds, Masinga played for local clubs Jomo Cosmos and Mamelodi Sundowns.

He also played for St Gallen in Switzerland, Salernitana, and Bari in Italy and Al Wahda in the United Arab Emirates.

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Jacob Ujamaa Nyerere

Jacob Ujamaa Nyerere is a public affairs researcher and senior investigative correspondent.

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