Former Zimbabwe youth international football player Butler Masango has died.
Masango, who featured for the Zimbabwe Under-23 team during the 1995 All-Africa Games which were held here in Harare where they reached the final before losing to Egypt, died in Johannesburg, South Africa, just after midnight today after a short illness.
He was 47.
In fact, Masango, who had a heart problem, was briefly hospitalised in Johannesburg at the beginning of this year and was recovering from home before his untimely death in the early hours of this morning.
During his playing days, Masango, who was a gifted midfielder, played for CAPS United, Blackpool and Rufaro Rovers in the local Premier League in the 1990s where he rubbed shoulders with fellow talented players such as Timothy Chirozvani, Kifton Kadirira, Pardon Chivasa, Alex "Chola" Chasweka, Owen Nhunhama, Vusi Laher, Alois Bunjira, Stewart "Shutto" Murisa, Cain and Abel Muteji, Gift "Umbro" Muzadzi and Cosmas Kabote.
At the time of his death, Masango, who hung up his boots in the early 2000s, was still heavily involved in football and was running a football academy in Johannesburg. He was also a scout for South African Premiership side Kaizer Chiefs and was close to the club's founder and owner Kaizer Motaung.
Masango was also the manager of several players, including Warriors midfielder Thabani Kamusoko, who he helped to get a contract with Zambian football side ZESCO United in 2019.
Masango's former teammate at CAPS United and Blackpool, Chirozvani, today expressed shock over the untimely death of the ex-midfielder.
"We played together with Butler Masango firstly at Blackpool in 1998 and then at CAPS United in 1999. Butler was very good at passing and shooting. He was a gentleman on and off the pitch. I was privileged to play football with him and I'm really saddened by his untimely death.
"In fact, when we heard that he was not feeling well at the beginning of this year, we tried to mobilise some money here in the UK to help him with his medical bills," said Chirozvani, who was speaking from his base in Wolverhampton, England.
Another UK-based former player Chasweka, who also played with Masango at Rufaro Rovers in the late 1990s, was also shocked by his ex-teammate's untimely death.
"Butler was just like my young brother and we used to chat over the phone almost every week. I'm just shocked and saddened by his untimely death. I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to his wife, kids and to the Masango family," said Chasweka from his base in Wales.
Masango is survived by his wife Nyarai Pemba and six-year-old daughter Gladys. He also had two other kids from his previous marriage - Chido and Tino.
Funeral arrangements are still being finalised and Masango's body is likely to be repatriated back to Zimbabwe for burial.