Madigage lauded by mentor

2012-10-23 18:07

Johannesburg - Former Charlton Athletic star and long-time Jomo Cosmos and SuperSport United coach Roy Matthews, who discovered Thomas Madigage, said the Bafana Bafana assistant coach was a case of the good dying young.

"If ever that old maxim that only the good die young had a ring of truth about it, Tommy's death was an abject example," Matthews said on Tuesday.

Madigage died in a car accident near Burgersfort, Limpopo on Thursday.

It was Matthews who spotted and unearthed the dazzling playing potential of Madigage when he was a 15-year-old playing in the Arcadia Under-16 team in Pretoria.

Later, Matthews set him on the path to a coaching career by appointing him assistant coach when both were actively involved with SuperSport in the late 1990s.

"I was coaching SuperSport at the time and Tommy was one of my star players," Matthews said.

"He possessed so many qualities... I decided to appoint him my assistant coach as well.

"When I left SuperSport, Tommy stayed on as the assistant coach to Bruce Grobbelaar and then went on to fill the position as Gavin Hunt's assistant when the club won three successive Premier League titles."

Reminiscing about 1986, Matthews informed Jomo Sono about the exceptional youngster from Atteridgeville who had caught his eye at the Caledonian Ground. The Jomo Cosmos boss wasted no time in signing up Madigage.

He lived in the Sono household in Orlando for the next couple of years and completed his schooling in Soweto as a member of the family.

"Tommy played a crucial role in helping Cosmos to the League title before going on to play for FC Zurich in Switzerland, Glasgow Rangers and Manchester City for short spells - before returning to Cosmos, earning four Bafana Bafana caps and ending his playing career at SuperSport," he said.

An Achilles tendon injury while with Zurich kept Madigage out of soccer for a year and Matthews believed this was responsible for him not achieving even greater heights as a player.

Matthews recalled that the mesmerising wing or midfielder was also kept out of soccer for 18 months before securing his desired release from Cosmos and transfer to SuperSport.

"No coach could have asked for a more helpful, understanding and loyal assistant than Tommy," said Matthews.

"Gordon Igesund, no doubt, realised this when he appointed him as the assistant Bafana coach when he took over from Pitso Mosimane a couple of months ago.

"It was a life-long ambition for Tommy, and he was so proud of his appointment.

"At 41, he seemed to have the world at his feet, and how he would have deserved it. Kindly in the extreme, wise in his assessment and never with a harsh word for anyone."