Safa retires Lesley's jersey

2003-08-15 12:33

Johannesburg - South African Football Association (Safa) president Molefi Oliphant announced during the memorial service of Lesley Manyathela on Thursday that jersey number 19 in the Bafana Bafana team would be retired until after the World Cup in 2006.

"This is our special way of honouring him," said Oliphant at a packed Standard Bank Arena.

"He was made for a mission and he completed his mission. May his soul live forever."

Premier Soccer League chief executive officer Trevor Philips announced that the PSL Golden Boot Award would in future be known as "Lesley Manyathela Golden Boot Award.

He said the honour acknowledged the striker's contribution from the Under-20 level through to the national team.

The prolific goalscorer for Orlando Pirates, who died on Saturday evening after a car accident on the N1 route to Musina in Limpopo, was last year's runner up for the Golden Boot Award.

But Manyathela, who featured prominently in the national Under-20, Under-23 and Bafana Bafana sides, scooped the PSL top goal scoring award last season.

Often sluggish in the field, Manyathela was nevertheless ferocious when a goal scoring opportunity presented itself, earning the nickname "Slow Poison".

Gauteng MEC for sport and recreation, Mondli Gungubele, said the 22-year-old Manyathela's untimely death coincided with the 22 goals he had scored in the last season.

'Great star'

"He also wore jersey number 122 at club level," said Gungubele.

He said Manyathela's background proved that "it does not matter where you come from". "If you are aware of your capabilities you can be a great star."

Among the dignitaries who celebrated Manyathela's life was sports minister Ngconde Balfour.

"In our culture children bury their parents but in Manyathela's situation it has gone vice versa," said Balfour.

An emotional Pirates chairperson Irvin Khoza said Manyathela had achieved remarkable success in his tragically short three-year career.

Kaizer Chiefs boss Kaizer Motaung comforted the thousands of mourners who had converged at the arena to pay tribute to the Buccaneer.

"There is a season to sow, and a season to reap. A season to live and a season to die. So there is really a time for everything in God's nature," Motaung said.

Manyathela's closest friend and team-mate Benedict Vilakazi sat motionless throughout the session.

The deceased player, who is survived by two children, his parents, two brothers, a sister and grandparents, was born on September 4 1981 in Musina, Limpopo.

Phuti, as he was called by his family, will be buried at Nancifield cemetery in Musina on Saturday.