Homeboy Notoane pays tribute to Madigage

2012-10-19 11:39

He walked through trials and tribulations and we connected through football and church.

This was a moving eulogy from David “Rala” Notoane to his fallen friend Thomas Madigage. The country woke up to the news that the Bafana Bafana assistant coach was killed in a car accident in the early hours of this morning.

Madigage’s homeboy Notoane remembers his neighbour from Atteridgeville as “a man who refused to give up in anything”.

These days the two – who had gone into coaching – were mostly distinguished by their Zion Christian Church headgear during official matches.

Notoane recalled one fateful day in February 2001 when, during a warm-up session, Madigage hinted of chest pains but insisted on playing in an official game despite a bout of flu.

In a rare sight in the local game, Madigage was airlifted from the pitch by helicopter after he collapsed during a league match between his club SuperSport United and Hellenic.

“Chincha”, as Madigage was known in football circles, had landed heavily on his chest following a collision. He stood up, but soon collapsed.

This incident changed South African football as it immediately became a prerequisite that all professional clubs should have an ambulance and medics on site at their home matches.

“Tommy was more than a friend – he was an inspiration to me since our days in the amateur ranks in Atteridgeville in the early ’80s,” said Notoane, the former Santos striker who was recommended by Madigage to SuperSport in 1999.

“We were just a 20-minute-walk apart from each other in the township. He was residing at ‘Ou Stad’ (old town) and I was staying at ‘Black Rock’ section. I literally followed in his footsteps in life.”

Notoane, a former national Under-23 assistant coach, remembered one morning in early 1987 as he visited Madigage’s house and was told that Jomo Sono had lured him to Jomo Cosmos.

This was the start of what went on to become an illustrious career.

He helped Ezenkosi on his debut in 1987 in a triumph that, to date, is the club’s only league title in the club’s history.

Born on November 14 1970, Madigage also held a distinction of being the youngest player in the professional ranks, aged 16.

Although his career was plagued by injuries, including cutting short his spell with FC Zurich in Switzerland during the 1990/91 season, Madigage went on to become a household name on the domestic front.

He made his debut for Bafana in South Africa’s 3-1 win over Mauritius in July 1993 and collected his fourth and last cap against the Netherlands in the Nelson Mandela Challenge in 1997.

When Bafana coach Gordon Igesund recruited Madigage to become one of his deputies – together with Serame Letsoaka – Madigage had concluded a journey that had made him South Africa’s longest-serving assistant club coach in the Absa Premiership.

He first assisted Pitso Mosimane during Matsantsa a Pitori’s swashbuckling years when the club won the 2004 SAA Supa8 and reached several other cup finals and came close to winning the league title on two occasions.

As deputy to Gavin Hunt, Madigage was part of the technical team that won back-to-back league titles between 2008 and 2010.

Their most recent silverware was the Nedbank Cup in May, just a few weeks before Igesund lured Madigage to become the national team assistant coach in July.

“Having worked with a coach like Gavin, it was ideal that he became Gordon’s assistant. Rest in peace Mogolo,” said Notoane, adding that “God called Tommy”.

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