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The South African Football Players Union (SAFPU) is greatly saddened by the tragic death of Thomas Madigage, Bafana Bafana’s assistant coach, but most of all a very important person in the establishment of SAFPU.


Madigage, a 41-year old former player of the national team, died last week in a car crash.


FIFPro wishes to send its condolences to family and friends of Thomas Madigage and the entire South African football family.


Madigage is affectionately known as Chincha - a name he earned during his playing career. He won four caps for Bafana Bafana. Madigage was the youngest professional player in South Africa when he made his debut for Jomo Cosmos in 1987 at the age of 16. He also played for SuperSport United and FC Zurich. He was appointed assistant coach in July.


South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma said his death was ‘a loss to the country’.


‘We send our deepest condolences to his family, relatives and most importantly to Bafana Bafana players and the technical team’, SAFPU spokesman Peter Khoabane said. ‘His passing on robbed our country of one of the best and brightest coaching stars and a dedicated soldier of the grassroots soccer development.’


Madigage was part of a generation of players that formed SAFPU as a tool to advance and defend players’ interests against powerful soccer bosses. When he first attended a SAFPU meeting in 1999 at the Johannesburg Athletic Stadium, he made people believe that victory was certain. He never minced his words and the first thing he said was: ‘When are the players going to strike?’


A true son of the soil, Madigage spent his hard earned money to make sure that SAFPU was able to attend the labour court cases in Cape Town whenever there was a dispute between the League and SAFPU on the organization rights agreement. He influenced senior and junior players to join the union and Supersport United players were the first ones to pay the subscription on his insistence.


Khoabane: ‘Madigage was a great leader who led by example. He will be remembered for his contribution to make South African sport and in particular football what it is today. It is a great loss not only to his family but to the whole of Africa and the soccer fraternity.’