Final whistle for football star

2016-01-20 06:00
GONE TOO SOON: Former Maritzburg United midfielder Mondle Cele (left) celebrates his goal with teammate John Paintsil against Orlando Pirates at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday (16/01). The goal proved to be the last of his career as he died in a car crash a few hours later. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

GONE TOO SOON: Former Maritzburg United midfielder Mondle Cele (left) celebrates his goal with teammate John Paintsil against Orlando Pirates at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday (16/01). The goal proved to be the last of his career as he died in a car crash a few hours later. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

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WHILE the family of former Maritzburg United star Mondli Cele mourns his death, the country’s football fraternity, on the other hand, is celebrating the life of a truly great footballer.

The 27-year-old fan favourite and SABC sports journalist Delisile Ngwenya died when Cele lost control of the vehicle he was driving in the early hours of Sunday morning (17/01) and plunged into the Umsunduzi River in Pietermaritzburg. The two other occupants in the vehicle were injured and taken to hospital.

Cele was in action on Saturday night (16/01) when United were held to a three-all draw by Orlando Pirates at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg. He even scored the opening goal of the match.

“We are saddened by the passing on of Mondli Cele.

“I can’t say much at this moment, the club will be releasing a statement at a later stage,” said Farook Kadodia, chairman of Maritzburg United.

Cele made eight appearances for United in the current soccer season and he was expected to play a pivotal role for the relegation-haunted club.

The Pietermaritzburg-based outfit are languishing at the bottom of the Absa Premiership table with 8 points after 14 matches.

Meanwhile, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) issued a statement regarding the death of Cele.

“We would like to send our condolences to Mondli’s family, of Maritzburg United management, players and technical staff. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult period,” said Mato Madlala, the league’s acting chief executive officer.

On Sunday, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said he was shocked by Cele’s death.

“Road accidents rob us of our future and Cele is one out of many examples,” he said in a statement.

“I watched him play Saturday as he landed the opening goal leading his club to a 3-3 draw with Orlando Pirates. I did not know I was watching him play for the last time.”

The list of PSL stars who have died in car accidents include the likes of Cecil Lolo (Ajax Cape Town, 2015), Richard Henyekane (Free State Stars, 2014), Thomas Madigage (Bafana Bafana, 2012) Jan Sillo (Amazulu, 2009), Gift Leremi (Mamelodi Sundowns, 2007) and Lesley Manyathela (Orlando Pirates, 2003).

  • Everyone at Express would like to send their heartfelt condolences to Mondli Cele’s family, his friends and Maritzburg United.

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