South Africa loses another hero in Shoes


22 April 2015

Tributes are pouring in from the sports community, ordinary South Africans and government officials for John “Shoes” Moshoeu, who died on 21 April after a long battle with cancer. He was 49.

“We have lost an outstanding footballer, a good role model for our youth and a committed and patriotic South African,” said President Jacob Zuma. “We wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends as well as the entire football fraternity. May his soul rest in peace.”

Moshoeu, affectionately known as “Shoes”, was a former Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs player. He will be remembered for his incredible role in 1996, when South Africa won the Africa Cup of Nations. He played a vital role in the midfield and earned himself great respect in the international football community, attracting many overseas offers.

Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula also remembered Shoes as a skilful player who scored over eight times and was capped 73 times for the South African national team.

“His passing [comes] after we laid to rest the ashes of Dr Steve Kalamazoo Mokone and just a few weeks after we bid farewell to Richard Henyekana. All of them have left marks in football that will ensure we never forget the rich legacy they leave behind. Our country is poorer without him,” said Mbalula.

The South African Football Association (Safa) has also sent condolences to the family and friends of Shoes. Safa president Danny Jordaan and former Bafana Bafana captain Lucas Radebe visited Moshoeu at the Sandton Clinic the evening before he died.

“I saw him on Monday evening when I visited him at the clinic and although he was not in good shape, he recognised me and even spoke a bit; little did I know that this was some way of him saying goodbye,” said Jordaan. “Our deepest condolences to his family and friends for their loss. I hope they find strength in these difficult times. As the association, the passing on of this legend saddens us.”

Today everyone talked about the Class of ’96 because the likes of Shoes made it famous. They got into the history books by lifting the title, Jordaan said. Among their number were Mark Fish, Lucas Radebe, Phil Masinga, Neil Tovey, David Nyathi, Andre Arendse and the late Sizwe Motaung, among others.

“These are the players who put our country on the map and we will forever be indebted to them for what they did for this country. These players have been an inspiration to our current crop of players.

“Shoes was a genius on the field, an intelligent man. He was humble and always willing to give advice. He will be remembered for almost single-handedly defeating Ghana in South Africa’s path to lifting the 1996 Afcon title.

“We have certainly lost a hero. What saddens us more is that just the other day we were mourning the passing away of Richard Henyekane [Free Stars and former Bafana Bafana player] and also attended the memorial service for the late Kalamazoo Mokone. The tears have hardly dried and now this.”

Radebe, who played with Moshoeu at Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana, said he had lost a friend he had known since childhood. “When I saw him struggling on Monday, I was heartbroken but I still expected that a fighter Shoes was, he would pull through.

“What an exemplary figure he was on and off the pitch. He lived a clean life – never smoked or drank, exercised religiously and this happens. Anyway, that is life. We are never masters of our destiny.”

Moshoeu’s career blossomed when he joined Giant Blackpool and then moved to Kaizer Chiefs. He did not stay long as his talent was noticed overseas; he made a big money move to Turkey, playing for Genclerbirligi, Fenerbahce and Bursaspor.

Funeral arrangements are being made and will be announced soon.

Moshoeu had been battling cancer for some time and was in and out of hospital in the past few months.