Former Bafana Bafana defender Lucas Radebe says football doesn’t always look glamorous, and it was his late teammate Philemon Masinga who helped him a lot during his time in Europe.
‘Rhoo’ was speaking during a memorial service held at the Grace Bible Church in Soweto to honour ‘Chippa’ who will be laid to rest on Thursday in North West.
"When it comes to death, when it's someone who is close to you...it's difficult," said Radebe.
"Football sometimes isn't as glamorous as it seems and having Phil at Leeds made it that much easier for me,” added the former Bafana centre back.
Radebe and the ex-Mamelodi Sundowns striker were among the most notable South African internationals to feature in the English Premier League after 1994 as they joined Leeds United.
"I called someone connected to Leeds to share the news that Phil had passed on, and he literally started sobbing uncontrollably...even later saying he was heading to drown his sorrows at a bar,” continued Radebe.
"That is the impact that Phil had on people wherever he went, he was loved by everyone," he concluded.
Although ‘Rhoo’ spent over a decade at Elland Road, Masinga left the English outfit and went on to play for Switzerland’s St Gallen, Bari and Salernitana in Italy before joining Al Wahda in the UAE before announcing his retirement in 2002.
On the other hand, ex-Bafana legends such as Mark Fish, Daniel Mudau and many football administrators including Safa president Danny Jordaan also paid tribute to the former goal poacher.
After making his professional debut with Jomo Cosmos under legendary coach Jomo Sono, Masinga launched his career with the national team in 1992 against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in South Africa's first match following their re-admission to international football by FIFA.
Masinga played for Bafana 58 matches, netted 18 times and will be mostly remembered for scoring the iconic goal in 1997 which helped Bafana qualify for their first ever Fifa World Cup tournament in 1998.
Apart from that historical goal against Congo-Brazzaville at the FNB Stadium, Masinga was instrumental in helping coach Clive Barker’s squad lift the African Cup of Nations trophy in 1996.
Masinga passed away at the age of 49 after fighting a battle with cancer and is survived by three children and wife Ntombi Nombewu.
Lucas 'Rhoo' Radebe breaks down in tears as he speaks at Phil Masinga's memorial service pic.twitter.com/lHVxTX3sbI— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) January 21, 2019