Cape Town - Lethal on the pitch, likeable and loved off it, tributes have poured in
for Bafana Bafana and Mamelodi Sundowns soccer legend Bennett Masinga
after he died in his sleep, at the age of 48, on Thursday night.
Diminutive and slightly built, but misleadingly potent as a consistent
goalscorer in the mould of Liverpool's Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen,
he was aptly described as "the trigger that finished off the job for the
highly skilled, trophy-winning Sundowns combination of the late 1980s
and early 1990s."
Off the pitch, there was no more popular player among his peers and
supporters alike than the striker from Klerksdorp who was nicknamed
Related to leading Bafana striker Phil Masinga, the cousins once shared
the goals in a 2-2 draw against Cameroon in 1992, shortly after the
return of South Africa to the international soccer fold following the
dismantling of apartheid.
"I worshipped him," said Phil Masinga, four years Bennito's junior and
the scorer of the legendary goal which earned Bafana a place in the 1998
World Cup finals.
"I used to carry his boots and kit to games when I was a youngster in my
teens. He was my hero, a better player than me. That's for sure."
Zane Moosa, another of Masinga's notable team-mates at Sundowns and a PSL
Footballer of the Year, said he was extremely upset by the news.
"What a way to spend a week-end," Moosa said.
"To be crushed by the news of Bennett's death at the relatively tender age of 48. I am devastated."
Former Sundowns captain Mike Nthombela, said Masinga was a vital influence in what was arguably the club's greatest combination.
"But what a nice guy as well," said Nthombela.
"I never heard anyone say a bad word about him, or remember Bennito committing a single bad foul on the pitch."
Phil Masinga said the family would issue a statement regarding the death
of his cousin in Stilfontein, near the place he was born - and reveal
the funeral details at the same time.
Friends, fans and family of Bennett Masinga are invited to share their
memories and tributes, and to light a candle for him, on his profile at Remembered.co.za.