Soccer Laduma and Sanlam Sky pay homage to South Africa’s great players and coaches who were taken before their time. While they may be gone, their exploits on the field of play will never be forgotten!
This week we celebrate the life and career of the late, great Senzo Meyiwa.
A hero murdered in his prime...
One of the most touching tributes to the murdered Senzo Meyiwa came from a respected journalist who writes for Soccer Laduma. Though the outrage and shock drew widespread reaction from millions in South Africa and across the globe as well, it was Vuyani Joni’s recollection of a very personal moment he shared with ‘Nzori’ just before the end of his life which captured virtually everything that Meyiwa was about. Indeed, the brave little goalkeeper battled a long and arduous road to become Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates’ number one. After all the years of doubt whether he could actually take over from both Itumeleng Khune and Moeneeb Josephs, Senzo delivered one of Bucs’ greatest goalkeeping performances in modern times when he almost singlehandedly denied TP Mazembe in the CAF Champions League. It was a performance that helped Pirates make history by reaching the final in 2013. He also produced some match-winning performances during what proved to be a highly successful AFCON qualifying campaign around the same time. Finally, the smiling shot-stopper from Durban was on his way and nothing in the world seemingly could stop him. This was until shots rang out in Vosloorus township on Sunday 26 October 2014 at around 20h00. The Bafana skipper was no more and Joni’s tribute stands today as a most moving account of the much-loved, fallen son.
Every time Senzo thought about it, he cried...
Joni wrote, “I last spoke to Senzo on that Sunday afternoon and he was his usual jovial self, talking about the then upcoming Soweto Derby and the Telkom Knockout semi-finals draw. We made plans but God decided otherwise. We planned to do an interview for this publication ahead of Bafana’s next qualifier against Sudan, as he was looking for his fifth straight clean sheet in the national team colours, among other things. I remember every time I brought up his splendid performance away to TP Mazembe in the CAF Champions League, there was always a sudden pause that followed my every question and then he’d look away, avoiding eye contact. This bothered me because I couldn’t understand why he would avoid speaking about such a heroic performance that had everyone talking and praising him. It was only after the 0-0 draw against Nigeria in the AFCON qualifiers that I finally ‘cornered’ him about this routine reaction to my questions about Lubumbashi. He finally opened up and said, ‘You know what, my outie, that’s the game I finally won a lot of people’s hearts and confidence. That’s the game I proved to everyone who doubted me that I was a real man and that I was up to the challenge of being the team’s number one goalkeeper. Every time I think about it, I get emotional and want to cry because, until that game, very few people believed in me, so I try to avoid speaking about it as much as possible.’ Senzo had presence. Senzo had charisma. Senzo had humility. Senzo had resilience. Senzo had a sense of humour. Senzo had passion. Senzo had respect for everyone. Senzo was crazy. Senzo was caring. Senzo was brave. Senzo was friendly. Senzo was full of life. Senzo could talk himself out of any situation with his contagious smile and I’m sure, given one more minute or so with his killer, Senzo would have charmed that bloody thug out of shooting him. This reminds me of the words I once came across, saying, ‘There’s a king in every kid and there’s a kid in every king,’ which I think best describes Senzo’s personality. In truth, ‘My outieee, ukuphi (where are you)?’ would precede every telephone conversation I ever had with him. This was the same reaction I was expecting when I called his phone after 21h00 on that tragic Sunday night, but it rang unanswered.
My outieee, ukuphi?” Sohlala Sinikhumbula, Nzori. P
He gave me money for a cold drink
Dejan Miladinovic – Prominent Orlando Pirates supporter
“He was a very nice person. He was the kind of person who was always there to help someone else, which is rare to find in a lot of players today. When he gave you something, he gave it with a lot of joy. I remember once meeting him at a filling station and he asked me, ‘Dejan, what are you doing here?’ I said, ‘No, I’m waiting for someone.’ He said, ‘Come here,’ and then gave me money to buy a cold drink for my family. I was shy to take it, but he didn’t give me a chance to reject it. He didn’t allow me to walk away from him without taking the money. He was so good to so many people.”