Daniel “Vader” Mophosho, a long time servant of Moroka Swallows and a player considered one of South Africa’s finest attacking midfielders during his playing days, passed on late on Tuesday evening following a long illness.
Bafana Bafana former coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba, a man who played alongside Mophosho at Swallows for many years, was stunned into silence when he heard the sad news and could only emit a slow, long whistle, unable to comment and requested to be called later in order to compose himself.
Walter Mamabolo, a former Mamelodi United goalkeeper expressed his deepest condolences to the Mophosho family while former team mate and close friend Finkie Sekete, who confirmed the passing of Mophosho, said the man had been ill for quite a long time yet it is still tragic to hear that he was no more.
Mjomana Sono was the undisputed number 10 at Orlando Pirates, the late Pule “Ace” Ntsoelengoe wore the number 12 jersey but excelled in the number 10 position now called the “hole” but Mophosho ranked right there among these luminaries during the turbulent 1970’s among the finest number 10’s at the time.
An unassuming fellow blessed with an abundance of talent, Mophosho’s strength was his boundless energy and the ability to cover every blade of grass during a football match, spraying passes to legendary Joel Mnini on the left, Congo Malebane in front of him and Andries Maseko on the far right.
Next to him he had Aubrey “The Great” Makgopela and before he switched to join Kaizer Chiefs, was Fetsi “Chippa” Molatedi. It was one of the best ever Swallows side assembled by the late Pine Chabeli and one match in particular stands out vividly in my memory.
It was the Mainstay Cup semi final against Kaizer Chiefs, the year was 1980. And Moroka Swallows were expected to roll over for the all conquering Amakhosi. But Swallows turned the form book upside down. Agreed Chiefs were soon a goal to the good and we all thought it would be lights out for the erratic but brilliant Dube birds.
We had however, not reckon with the man they called “Lekganyane” who had unfortunately not read the script penned by pundits. Mophosho was to rally his troops and within a relatively short period, Swallows had overturned the lead and were 2-1 up. Ntsoelengoe levelled the score but Mophosho drove Swallows to take a 3-2 lead.
Again Ntsoelengoe was instrumental in equalizing for Amakhosi, forcing the game into extra time. But Mophosho was intend on etching his name into the history books of South Africa and once more, was behind Swallows taking the lead, suffice to say the game ended 5-5 and the NPSL ordered a replay.
But in the replay, Chiefs banked on silencing Mophosho, but their plan backfired as he was nowhere in the field nor on the bench. It was only at the break that Mophosho somehow materialized and took the field. He took off from where he left off the previous week and guided Swallows to a memorable 2-1 victory.
They were to lose the final 3-2 to a Jomo Sono inspired Orlando Pirates. But Mophosho had engraved his name boldly in the hearts of South African followers with gold letters.
May his soul rest in peace.