Shoes Moshoeu: A midfield maestro that stole South African hearts

A legend on the field but a true role model off it. Goal takes a look at the career of the late John 'Shoes' Moshoeu

Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs legend John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu  lost his long battle with cancer on Tuesday afternoon, aged 49.  Goal pays tribute to a man who left a legacy beyond just football that very few ever achieved.

Born on the 18th of December 1965 in Soweto, Moshoeu began his football career at amateur Diepkloof team, Blue Whales. He soon moved to Giant Blackpool, where he was part of the specially named ‘Triple-M combination’ alongside Fani Madida and Geelbooi Masango.

In 1991, Blackpool reached the infamous JPS Cup final, where they lost to Dynamos. Moshoeu was in the team.

The skilful midfielder showcased performances that soon brought Kaizer Chiefs calling and after five years at the club, he joined Amakhosi for a short stint in 1993, before making a move to Turkey the same year.

His time in Turkey saw him playing over 220 games and scoring 47 goals. The beneficiaries of his talent were Genclerbirligi (93/94), Kocaelispor (95/96 - 97/98), Fenerbahçe (97/98 – 00/01) and Bursaspor (00/01-01/02) in the Turkish league.

The midfield maestro earned himself a Cup title in the 96/97 with Kocaelispor and a league title with Fenerbahçe during the 2001/02 season and earned the fans favourite tag at Fenerbahçe.

Moshoeu‘s impressive club performances saw him cement his place in the South African national team, Bafana Bafana.

He made his debut in 1993 against Botswana and went on to make 73 appearances for Bafana and scored eight goals. He was a member of the victorious South African team that won the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations on home soil. Scoring four goals, including the winner against Algeria in the quarter-finals and another two in the semi-finals against Ghana, Shoes earned a permanent spot in the hearts of South African football fans. He went on to represent his country at the 1998 Fifa World Cup in France, playing in all three matches.  

At the age of 37, Moshoeu returned to Naturena and continued to dazzle the Amakhosi faithful with his skill and commitment. His time at the club saw him play 89 games and scoring 23 goals to his name. A central figure for Chiefs in the 2003/04 season, Moshoeu finished as the top goalscorer with 11 goals in all competitions, including two hat-tricks that season.

The first was against Black Leopards in a 5-0 win for the Soweto-based club, and the second came against his future club, AmaZulu in Amakhosi's 4-1 win.

Moshoeu assisted in ending Chiefs league title drought that had lasted 11 years. This wasn’t his only title at the club. His trophy case acquired two Coca-Cola Cups (2003/04 and 2004/05), a second league title followed in the 2004/05, and the Absa Cup in the 2005/06 season.

At an age, when most players have called it quits and resigned themselves to lower level football, Moshoeu’s incredible form saw him earn a national team call up to the 2004 Afcon squad.

In 2006 he joined AmaZulu. He played 51 matches at the club and scored five goals before announcing his retirement from playing at the age of 42, in 2008.

While this brought a temporay end to his playing career, the midfield stalwart pursued a career in coaching and club ownership. He spent three years as a player-coach with Gauteng-based club, Vodacom League club, Alexandra United.

He went on to take ownership of the club soon afterwards with another South African football legend Brian Baloyi. As of 2014, Moshoeu was involved in social development initiatives. He told the PSL website at the time: “I really enjoy working with kids. I also assist in training players who are looking to try and get themselves contracts in the PSL or NFD.”

While football has always been known to be glamorous and a continuous party, the down-to-earth and low profile Moshoeu stole hearts and minds for his talents on the field and for his humility and compassion off it.

Goal South Africa salutes you Shoes. Our condolences go out to the family, friends and all of South Africa as we all say goodbye to another one of its heroic sons.