Most of us were going about our usual Sunday night routines last week, tucked in bed and scrolling through our social networks when we came across statuses and tweets about the death of Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa.
The 27-year-old was reportedly shot and killed on Sunday night after an alleged altercation during a robbery in the home of his controversial girlfriend Kelly Khumalo in Vosloorus. His death is a loss not just to his family and friends but also for the whole nation.
Augusto Palacios, who was Meyiwa’s coach while playing for the Orlando Pirates Youth Development, described him as a patient player who never complained about anything and always asked for constructive criticism after his games.
Prior to joining Pirates, he played as a striker for his hometown club, London Cosmos in Umlazi, Durban. He then switched from being a striker to a goalkeeper. After excelling in the goal posts, he was selected to join the KwaZulu Natal provincial team in 2000. He went on to play for the Transnet Under 14 and Coca-Cola Under 17 sides. It was when he took part in these regional tournaments that he was scouted by Orlando Pirates and invited to join the Pirates Youth Academy.
His hard work at Pirates Youth Development earned him a chance to represent the national side at junior level. He was called up for U-17, U-20 and U-23 national squads. In November 8 2006, he made his Orlando Pirates debut in a game against Amazulu, which Pirates won by 2-1.
In 2012, Meyiwa was given a chance to play after Pirates’ then-first choice goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs got an injury. Since then, he continued to prove himself worthy of the title.
He brought himself to the nation’s attention in 2013 during Pirates’ run to the final of the 2013 African Champions League. We watched in awe as he saved crucial penalties against the Congolese team, TP Mazembe in the second round. As a result, Pirates became the first South African team to make it into the group stages of the competition in seven years.
His performance against the Congolese giants impressed Bafana Bafana’s then-coach Gordon Igesund, who handed Meyiwa his senior international debut on June 2 2013 in a 2-0 away victory against Lesotho. Thereafter, the keeper was called up for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, but was kept out of the side by South African captain and talismanic Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.
His overall achievements as a goalkeeper for Orlando Pirates include 157 starts, 2010/11 MTN8 winner, 2011/12 Absa Premiership winner, 2011/12 Nedbank Cup winner and 2013 CAF Champions League runner-up. He also earned seven Bafana Bafana caps which consist of six starts and one sub.
His tragic passing comes at a time when his career was beginning to blossom. Orlando Pirates Chairman, Dr. Irvin Khoza announced on Tuesday, 28 October, that his number 1 jersey is retired and his wife will receive his salary for the next six months.
His funeral will take place tomorrow at Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban.
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