Cape Town - The South African Football Association (SAFA) has expressed their sadness at the passing of former Bafana Bafana midfield maestro John Lesiba “Shoes” Moshoeu at Morningside Clinic in Sandton.
Read: 'Shoes' was an outstanding footballer - Zuma
The 49-year-old Moshoeu had been battling cancer for some time and was in and out of hospital in the past few months.
SAFA president, Danny Jordaan who together with former Bafana Bafana captain Lucas Radebe visited Moshoeu at the Sandton Clinic on Monday evening, said he was shocked by the news.
“I saw him on Monday evening when I visited him at the Clinic and although he was not in good shape, he recognised me and even spoke a bit; little did I know that this was some way of him saying goodbye.
“Our deepest condolences to his family and friends for their loss, hope they find strength in these difficult times. As the Association, the passing on of this legend saddens us,” said Jordaan on the Safa.net website.
Radebe who played with Moshoeu both at Kaizer Chiefs and at Bafana Bafana said he had lost a friend whom he had known from childhood.
“When I saw him struggling on Monday, I was heartbroken, but I still expected that a fighter Shoes was, he would pull through. What an exemplary figure he was on and off the pitch. He lived a clean life - never smoked or drank, exercised religiously and this happens. Anyway that is life; we are never masters of our destiny,” said Radebe who was at Morningside with members of the family and SAFA officials.
Moshoeu’s career blossomed when he joined Giant Blackpool and then moved to Kaizer Chiefs.
He did not stay long as his talent was noticed overseas where he made a big money move to Turkey playing for Genclerbirligi, Fenerbahce and Bursaspor.
He will greatly be remembered as one of the driving forces that helped Bafana Bafana win the Africa Cup of Nations title in 1996 on home soil.
“Today everyone talks about the Class of ‘96 because the likes of Shoes made it famous.
“They got into the history books by lifting the title alongside other stalwarts like Mark Fish, Lucas Radebe, Phil Masinga, Neil Tovey, David Nyathi, Andre Arendse and the late Sizwe Motaung, among others.
“These are the players who put our country on the map and we will forever be indebted to them for what they did for this country.
“These players have been an inspiration to our current crop of players,” added Jordaan.
“Shoes was a genius on the field, an intelligent man off it. He was humble and always willing to give advice.
“He will be remembered for almost single-handedly defeating Ghana in South Africa’s path to lifting the 1996 AFCON title.
“We have certainly lost a hero. What saddens us more is that just the other day we were mourning the passing away of Richard Henyekane, and also attended the memorial service for the late Kalamazoo Mokone - the tears have hardly dried up and now this.”
Funeral arrangements are being arranged and will be released soon.