South Africa, the sporting fraternity and football in particular is poorer after the passing of soccer legend Philemon "Chippa Phil" Masinga, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The international football star passed away on Sunday at a Parktown hospital due to ill health.
Masinga is renowned for his performance as a striker for the famous side that claimed Bafana Bafana's first and only Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) trophy in 1996, as well as his goal that booked Bafana Bafana a ticket to the FIFA World Cup held in 1998 in France.
"We shall forever be grateful to Philemon "Chippa" Masinga, as he was affectionately known, for being part of a collective in his deserved call ups to Bafana Bafana. A collective that helped put South Africa back on the international stage when he scored the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifier goal," said the President.
Masinga, a former Bafana Bafana striker, originates from Khuma, Stilfontein in the North West. He was admitted to Tshepong Hospital in Klerksdorp last month, before being transferred to a Parktown hospital in Johannesburg.
North West Premier Tebogo Job Mokgoro also paid tribute to Masinga. He had earlier last week visited him in hospital.
He said Masinga's passing was unexpected, and that it is a great loss to not only the North West province, but the international football fraternity as well.
"He was one of our soccer development ambassadors who contributed selfishly and significantly to the success of one of the province's flagship soccer project, the annual Maize Cup Challenge," said the Premier.
Masinga continued to put South Africa on an international stage when he played for teams in the English Premier League and Italian Serie A League.
Premier Mokgoro said while his words cannot take away the pain of losing this extraordinary star, his prayer was for all to find solace in knowing that someone so special will never be forgotten.
"May those loving memories ease our pain and bring us comfort. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time, and may his soul rest in peace," Premier Mokgoro said.