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Remember When 'Slow Poison' Left Opposition Defenders Bamboozled?

This week, Stangen takes a look at the late Lesley 'Slow Poison' Manyathela.
 
Manyathela was a goalscorer of note who left opposition defenders bamboozled every time he struck a ball into the back of the net.
 
The fact that Lesley Manyathela’s last bit of action inside a football pitch was a goal, in a Supa 8 game against Jomo Cosmos, on 8 August 2003, is a testament to the legacy he left behind – that of a goalscorer for whom scoring goals seemed more like a hobby. 
 
On the 9th of August 2003, South Africa woke up to the shocking news of the demise of ‘Slow Poison’ – as he was fondly known. The humble striker from Musina in Limpopo who crept into football lovers’ hearts with his precision and composure in front of goal. He had been behind the wheel, en route to his hometown to be with his mother, just in time for Women’s Day, when he tragically passed away.     
 
Manyathela helped Orlando Pirates clinch the league title in the 2002/03 season, scoring an incredible 48 goals in 73 appearances. In that campaign, he netted 22 times to win the Golden Boot award. The following season, following his passing, the award was renamed the Lesley Manyathela Golden Boot award, while Bucs retired jersey number 22 in his honour. 
 
He earned five caps for the national U20 side, scoring one goal in the Cosafa Castle Cup. Naturally, he progressed through to the U23 team, where he scored six goals in 13 appearances. For Bafana Bafana, where the deadly striker was capped nine times, he scored four goals. 
 
The real tragedy in Manyathela’s death is that, at 22, he was young and a lot had been expected of him. Even more saddening is that when he struck that goal against Cosmos, he had just come back from trials abroad and was said to have been on the verge of a move to Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev. 
 
Those not privileged enough to watch him in action might ask: what separated the lanky marksman from the rest? He was a born striker, to start with, with a killer instinct in the opposition’s box. Left unmarked, he did untold damage! He revelled in the pressure of leading the line for a big team like Pirates and was never overawed by the occasion. Fourteen years after his death, the PSL and, by extension, Bafana Bafana, are still missing goalscorers like Manyathela. No one is irreplaceable, so they say... well, not ‘Slow Poison’. 
 
May his soul rest in peace.    
 
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