South African Football Legends

Posted: January 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

What forms one to be bestowed the title of a football legend; according to BBC Sport “it is the ability to turn a match with a flash of brilliance or the determination to win at all costs. Legends take football to another level, producing moments of magic which people will never forget. Sometimes a footballer’s greatness extends to the person they are off the pitch too”.

From this brief descriptive, legends where able to make these moments at any given time in a match and where consistent through time, one would think of a few names that are entitled to be called legends Pele, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Eusebio, Sir Bobby Moore.

My concerns in Mzansi is that anything that has ever kicked a ball in the professional ranks is classified or considered a legend, we need to get a clear perspective on what constitute a legend and let’s show respect to the true legends. We are also being misled by football connoisseurs and the media calling the team that won 1996 Africa cup of nations as legends while some of them where just average players in the presence of exceptional players.

While the South African football Association has failed to document and preserve our football history in the form of a football museum, here’s a brief of South African football greats that deserve the title of being called legends.

1. Dr Stephen Madi “Kalamazoo” Mokone : represented his country at the age of 16 before becoming the first black South African to play professional football in Europe, was South Africa’s first soccer superstar. The only south african player to sign for Spanish giants Barcelona in 1959, but because they had their quota of foreigners, was loaned to French side Marseilles before moving to Torino in Italy

2. Matsilela Ephraim “Jomo” Sono : Gained fame for his all-round ability, dribbling and accurate passing skills. he was given the nickname of Jomo (which means “burning spear”) by an Orlando Pirates fan, who saw in him the same leadership qualities as those of Jomo Kenyatta, the then president of Kenya. After he had accomplished everything that he set out to do at Orlando Pirates, Sono went to the United States of America, where he played for the New York Cosmos team; one of his team-mates was the legendary player Pele.

3. Patrick “Ace” Ntsoelengoe : Spent his playing career hopping between Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa and the North American Soccer League (NASL), where he spent 11 years playing for a variety of teams, most significantly Minnesota Kicks and Toronto Blizzard. He is the only South African in the American National Soccer Hall of Fame, and is remembered as one of the greatest talents Africa ever produced by fans and players on both sides of the Atlantic.

4. Lucas ‘Masterpiece’ Moripe : Rose to fame during the 1972 season when the Pretoria Callies’ winger was named NPSL Footballer of the Year for his great ball-juggling expertise coupled with an astonishing ability to score goals of the highest quality. Masterpieces’, after whom the Atteridgeville Super Stadium named, won a trip to England where he trained with Wolverhampton Wanderers, Newcastle United and Middlesbrough then a year later, in 1973, when the boycott-busting British All Stars XI made their historic trip to Soweto to play a Black SA XI showed more individual skill with an unbelievable repertoire of ball tricks plus a piece of individual magic for his side’s opening goal. In 1977, the dribbling genius was called up as a reserve for the multi-racial Springboks that were held to a 1-1 draw by Rhodesia in Harare,and continued bamboozling opponents in Romans’ number 10 jersey until the mid-1980s after one season with Orlando Pirates.

5. Percy ‘Chippa’ Moloi : The late Percy Moloi was an incredible forward/midfielder, who during 1960s and 1970s was often referred to as the ‘Pele’ of SA soccer, and was probably the first black star to score over 100 professional goals. Even during the amateur era of the 1950s, the diminutive ball juggler with amazing body swerves was already making waves at Rockville Hungry Lions.

6. Nelson ‘Teenage’ Dladla: is rated as one of Kaizer Chiefs greatest ever players. The magical winger wore the club’s number 11 jersey for over a decade. Teenage’ was a firm favourite with the fans, who’ll never forget his long service, dedication and commitment. However, his August 1976 arrival at Amakhosi will always be tainted with sadness following the stabbing to death of Chiefs’ charismatic manager Ewert ‘The Lip’ Nene who was attempting to sign the star in KwaThema from lower league Pilkington United Brothers.

7. Joel ‘Ace’ Mini : legendary winger, one of the best-ever dribblers this country has produced, shone brightly for over a decade following his 1977 move to the Birds from amateurs, Zola Black Gorillas. ‘Ace’ was a unique player, known not only for his flair when tricking opponents down both the right and left sides of the park, but is also remembered for netting some spectacular goals, especially his last-minute winner in the 1983 Mainstay Cup Final against Witbank Black Aces, for which he won the Golden Boot award. In early 1985, after the NSL was launched, Mnini dumped Swallows for Mighty Birds of the rebel NPSL, however, the skilful man soon returned to his original beloved team, where he continued thrilling fans by pulling all sorts of tricks out of the bag.

8. Lucas ‘Rhoooo’ Radebe : had always been a soccer fan and now began to play seriously for the ICL Birds in the Bophutatswana Soccer League, first as a goalkeeper and later in the midfield. In 1989 he came to the notice of talent scouts for the Kaizer Chiefs club, and was promptly signed-up. In 1994 Radebe joined Leeds United in England , and, after a troubled start, went on to become a favourite with the Leeds fans, who nicknamed him “the Chief’. In 1998 – after playing in the South African team which had won the African Nations Cup in 1996 – he was made captain of the Leeds team. After returning to South Africa to lead Bafana Bafana in that year’s World Cup tournament, Radebe concentrated on putting Leeds on the road to victory. The team came fourth in the 1998-1999 English Premiership and third the following year, gaining qualification for the coveted European Cup, now known as the Champions League. Radebe, now South Africa ‘s most-capped soccer player, is at home in a variety of positions: centre-back – his main position – right-back, left-back, defensive midfield, goalkeeper and sweeper. Radebe’s success on the soccer pitch tends to overshadow another aspect of his life – his work for a number of educational, social and charitable initiatives, including the Starfish charity for HIV and Aids orphans and the “Reach for a Dream’ Foundation; for which the University of Cape Town conferred an honorary Master of Social Sciences degree on him in 2005. He has also served as the FIFA ambassador for the SOS Children’s Villages, and in 2000 received FIFA’s Fair Play Award for his efforts to rid soccer of racism.

The Golden Generation

9. Benni McCarthy

10. Any takers???



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