- The 1996 CAF African Cup of Nations winner with Bafana Bafana, John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu passed away on this day, April 21 in 2015
- Fallen Bafana Bafana midfielder was a true inspiration to many around the country and Briefly News reflects on John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu’s glittering career
- Credited for carrying Bafana Bafana’s hopes during his era, the late John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu was a true icon on and off the field of play according to ex-teammates Rudolph Seale and Willem Jackson
On this day back in 2015, the South African football fraternity woke up to the news that star midfielder John Lesiba Moshoeu was no more – he passed away at the age of 49.
The man who was a darling to many football-loving fans in the country symbolized stardom whenever he donned the Bafana Bafana jersey.
Many would recall him when he mesmerized opposing defenders during the 1996 CAF African Cup of Nations tournament that was staged in South Africa.
There’s no doubt that Moshoeu was very instrumental in ensuring that the national side emerged as victors under the guidance of legendary coach Clive Barker.
Briefly News takes a look at the life and times of one of the most decorated players in South African football history.
His former teammates Rudolph Seale and Willem Jackson exclusively speak to Briefly News as they reminisce about the moments they spent with the former Kaizer Chiefs icon, saying he was a man of many languages.
Jackson Told Briefly News:
“If you remember when I came to Joburg in 1997 when I joined Orlando Pirates and got a call-up to join the national team.
“John was one of the legends, one of the guys that would tell me what to do not only for Bafana but for Pirates as well. When I was playing as a centre-back, he was playing as a midfielder and he would know all the positions.
“He always took his job seriously, the training sessions and he was always on time. You’ll find him on the bus heading to training. He was always ready and always full of fun to be with. Even after training, he is still the same John who is always laughing.
“He would always try and make you comfortable. His absence could be felt and he would talk all the languages, Afrikaans, Sotho and tsotsi taal, and isiZulu.
“But yeah, he was a great guy to be around with. He came back to join Kaizer Chiefs from overseas and you could see he took his soccer seriously. The fact that he played until over 40 shows it all. He was a great inspiration for all of us.
“He actually motivated a lot of us to go overseas and come back to play at home. I hope the youngsters can get his videos and see what he was capable of. We lost a true legend, he was always great to have and I will always remember that kind man.”
His Club Football Career:
Nicknamed Shoes, Moshoeu was born in Limpopo but grew up in Diepkloof in the heart of Soweto where he honed his colourful skills as a footballer.
He launched his career with a club known as Diepkloof Blue Wales at an amateur level before joining Giant Blackpool where he played together with Fani Madida, Seale, and Geelbooi Masango. He stayed with the club from 1987 until he left in 1992 before joining Chiefs a year later.
The skillful attacking midfielder donned the Amakhosi shirt on a short stint in 1993 and was quickly snapped up by Turkish giants, Genclerbirligi whom he played for in 1993 until 1995.
He didn’t come back home after ending his stay with the Turkish SuperLig side but joined Kocaelispor, Bursaspor as well as Fenerbahce - all from Turkey.
In 2003, he decided to head back home and finish what he started with the Glamour Boys, he joined them for a second spell until he switched to AmaZulu three years later.
At the age of 37, Shoes played 89 games for the Soweto giants and found the back of the net on 23 occasions but his best season was the 2003/04 Premier Soccer League campaign.
The dazzling star finished as Chiefs' top goalscorer with 11 goals in all competitions, including two hat-tricks where he helped the club end the PSL title drought that had lasted 11 years.
Apart from bagging the league in the 2003/04 term, he contributed immensely to the club where they secured two Coca-Cola Cups (2003/04 and 2004/05), another league title in 2004/2005 plus the Absa Cup in the 2005/06 season.
Having left in 2006, he made history with Usuthu where featured for the Durban-based side at the age of 42 and he remains the record holder for the oldest goalscorer in the top tier when he scored for AmaZulu against Chiefs in 2007 at the age of 41 years, 11 months and 17 days.
Seale Told Briefly News:
“You brought good memories but it’s a sad day that you just recalled, this is big day. He was like a brother to me, maybe a family member. In fact, Shoes passed away on this day watching him.
“We were at Morningside Hospital, it was myself, a friend Peter Rashavha, Mark Williams and Glyn Binkin.
“So, speaking of Shoes, I joined him in 1988 at Blackpool and I was still a laaitie, no knowledge of Pro-side football.
“He and other guys welcomed me with a smile and open arms. It was like I was one of them for ages. Few years down the line, Shoes came to Kaizer Chiefs, I was already there and did the same to him.
“I was very protective of him and he did well for us but if you remember he didn’t start well for Chiefs and three to four months. So, I can remember how devastated he was. I think he regretted the move to Chiefs, but I told him that I know what you are capable of and your days will come.
Indeed his day came and he became one of the players Chiefs relied on. At Bafana, he was my teammate as well.
"So, I knew Shoes from both club levels that is Blackpool and Chiefs. He was a true brother and we really miss him. May he rest peacefully wherever he is. He is our brother.”
International Career With Bafana Bafana:
Following a speedy recovery from a broken leg injury and spending time on the sidelines for more than five months, the creative midfielder made his debut for the South African national football team on 10 January 1993 and netted on debut against the Zebras of Botswana with Seale.
He was a key figure for the national team that bagged the only Afcon title when they beat Tunisia 2-0 at a packed FNB Stadium in 1996 – Moshoeu was the second top scorer with four goals next to his name.
Apart from his continental exploits, Moshoeu formed part of the team that qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup that was hosted in France.
He represented South Africa in six major tournaments and is the oldest player to play in national colours for Bafana.
After collecting 73 international caps and 68 starts plus eight strikes, Shoes last pulled on the national team shirt when they met the Super Eagles of Nigeria in Tunisia on 31 March 2004 at the age of 38 years, one month, and 13 days.
On This Day, Shoeeees Moshoeu Sadly Passed Away:
Media reports emerged that the legend of the game succumbed to stomach cancer after a long battle at the Morningside Hospital.
Because of his stature in the game and cool, calm, and collected demeanor on and off the field, I was part of the media contingent at his memorial that was held at the Grace Bible Church on a cold day in Soweto. Moshoeu was then later buried at Westpark Cemetery in Randburg on 27 April 2015.
Briefly News joins many fans and legends in honouring the true son of the soil who is one of those that can be credited for opening doors for our players to ply their trades in overseas leagues.
May the Spirit of the Legend continue to Repose Peacefully.
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