SA great ‘Shoes’ dies

2015-04-22 00:00

ONE of the greatest players in South ­African football history, John “Shoes” Moshoeu, died yesterday afternoon after a long battle with stomach cancer. The former Bafana Bafana attacking ­midfielder and 1996 Africa Cup of ­Nations medal winner was 49.

Moshoeu’s agent, Glyn Binkin, broke the news on Twitter at around 3.30 pm yesterday.

“John Shoes Moshoeu sadly passed away at 3 pm this afternoon after a long but brave battle with cancer. May his dear soul rest in peace!!,” Binkin’s first Tweet read. “He may be gone but will never be forgotten and his family have requested their privacy and that they may be ­allowed to mourn in peace.”

Moshoeu’s professional career only ended in 2008, when at 42 he hung up his boots while playing for Durban-based PSL club AmaZulu. Before that he had enjoyed three stints at Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs as well as spells abroad with Turkish clubs Genclerbirligi and Fenerbahce.

But it was on the international stage where “Shoes” will be remembered most. His performances at Afcon 1996 were crucial to Bafana’s success. At ­38 years old, Moshoeu was then ­selected for the Bafana squad that failed to advance out of the group stages in ­Tunisia at Afcon 2004 — a testament to his ability and longevity.

“I was with him a couple of weeks ago and he was really sick. You knew then that he was going to die,” an emotional Clive Barker told The Witness yesterday. “He was the conductor of the orchestra, a great team person and just magnificent all round.”

Barker was the coach of the Bafana team who made history in 1996, and he paid tribute to Moshoeu’s influence in that historical tournament.

“In 1996 if there was one guy who had the biggest influence then it was Shoes,” he said. “He scored against Cameroon [group stages], he scored the winner against Algeria [quarter-finals] and then he mesmerised and danced in the ­semi-final against Ghana like only Shoes could. For me he was the player of the tournament.”

Moshoeu scored twice in that 3-0 win over the Black Stars at FNB Stadium and, in doing so, etched his name into South African football history as Bafana ­secured a place in the final.

“He used to make the ball talk,” Barker continued. “He never used to run, he used to glide across the field. He was a marvel to watch.”

Little was known about the details of Moshoeu’s illness. In February he had been discharged from Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg at a time when it had been reported that he was fighting a “life-threatening illness”.

Moshoeu had been a player/coach for ABC Motsepe League [third tier] outfit Alexandra United in Gauteng up until as recently as May last year.

He was capped 73 times for SA.

“He couldn’t even open his eyes. I squeezed his hand,” Barker said of the last time he saw Moshoeu. “I feel so sorry for his family and friends. It’s really ­difficult. It’s like losing a son.”

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