Siphiwe Tshabalala grieves

By Drum Digital
15 December 2010

FANS know him as a hero who never gives up, a mercurial player with such guts and strike power that he creates goals week after week. But the Siphiwe Tshabalala we see today is a broken man – a son mourning the passing of his beloved mother.

It is perhaps his darkest hour as Hadifele Tshabalala’s casket is lowered into the ground in the Avalon Cemetery in Soweto and the devoted Chiefs star breaks down, sobbing openly. Overcome, he is propped up by his ever-present father, Isaac, who appears to be holding the family together in their time of loss.“Siphiwe has been absolutely devastated by the news,” Isaac (46) tells us. “The hardest part for me was telling him and my daughter, Mpumi, that their mom was gone. But hopefully with time we will begin to heal.”

The news triggered the start of an emotional roller-coaster for the diminutive 25-year-old midfielder whose career is about to go international with persistent rumours of a move to leading English club Everton. But Shabba has been unable to think about soccer since his mother died on Sunday 5 December at the age of 45. His family and management have told us that even though he can’t bring himself to talk to the media, he’s deeply grateful for all the heartwarming support he has received.

At the memorial service on the Thursday following her death, a capacity crowd of soccer fans from various clubs draped in their regalia pitched up at the Protea Recreational Centre in Protea South, Joburg.

There was also support from the entire Kaizer Chiefs team, as well as Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane, SuperSport United defender Morgan Gould and DJ Cleo. Soul singer Gloria Bosman performed a stirring rendition of Joy’s Paradise Road, at which point Siphiwe could not hold back the tears any longer.

And that’s when Chiefs captain Jimmy Tau stood up and walked from his place in the congregation to Siphiwe’s side to console him and his 12-year-old sister. Jimmy showed what great leaders do in these situations and he later made one of the most moving tributes of the day.

As dark as it might seem at this point, know this – that God is with you, Jimmy told mourners. “I know exactly how you feel. I lost both my parents. But you have people’s support. That you can see from the many people who have come out to support you. They are your new mothers.”

Safa chief executive officer Leslie Sedibe spoke of how responsible Siphiwe is and what a role model he and other Kaizer Chiefs players had been at the World Cup camps. Then Orlando Pirates Public Relations Officer Mickey Modisane brought a message on behalf of Pirates chairman Dr Irvin Khoza.

“Life plays itself out,” he said. “She played her part by giving us Siphiwe, who is the pride of the nation. She gave us a soldier.”

THE loss of Hadi has been all the more devastating because the family is such a tight-knit foursome. We last spoke to them in June after Siphiwe, recently crowned SA Football Association’s 2010 player of the year, had scored his famous goal in the opening match of the World Cup and they were gushing with pride. His mom wept with joy in the stands when he scored that cracking goal: “It came out of nowhere, that goal. I’m proud of Siphiwe,” she told us at the time (We’re proud of you, Siphiwe, 24 June).

Disaster struck the happy family not six months later when Isaac and Hadifele were attending a bridal shower in Soweto. Hadi unexpectedly fell and bumped her head on the floor.

Read the full article in DRUM of 23 December 2010

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