Tuesday marks the 10th anniversary of the tragic death of Thomas Madigage, one the great prodigies of the domestic game who evolved into a much-loved coach.
Madigage became the youngest player in league history to make his debut when Jomo Sono threw him in the deep end, later played for Bafana Bafana but was stricken by constant injury as his body took a pounding from defenders.
He would go onto to be the long serving assistant coach at SuperSport United, first working with Pitso Mosimane and then Gavin Hunt, before losing his life in a tragic car accident on a trip to his home village in Limpopo province.
Madigage was 16 years, four months and one day old when he featured for Cosmos in a home defeat by Leeds United and before long was a first team regular as Sono’s club won the 1987 league title in his first season.
It was not long before he was on his way overseas, hailed as the brightest young footballer to appear on the domestic scene since the likes of Sono himself and Pule ‘Ace’ Ntsoelengoe.
Tragically, at FC Zurich he played just one game before a knee injury kept him out for a whole season and he was never the same player again.
But still good enough five years later, after returning home to feature for SuperSport, to make a belated national team debut against Mauritius in 1993 and won the last of his four caps four years after that.
He was airlifted to hospital from the pitch after suffering a cardiac contusion in Cape Town in February 2001 in a collision with an opponent in a match against Hellenic but bounced back to continue his career, going onto be payer coach before hanging up his boots in 2003.
He was then a long-standing member of the club’s coaching staff and a trusted assistant. His goal celebrations with Hunt became among the game’s most memorable images.
He left SuperSport to become Bafana Bafana assistant coach under Gordon Igesund, just four months before his death.
By Mark Gleeson (courtesy of www.mtnfc.co.za)