Pitso Mosimane, coach of Al Ahly holds trophy during the 2021 CAF Champions League Final between Kaizer Chiefs and Al Ahly at the Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca, Morocco on 17 July 2021 ©BackpagePix

A legend is an ordinary person who has the willpower to stick it out and carry on in spite of unbearable circumstances. More importantly, a legend wakes up each morning to go and do what they are supposed to do and do it extraordinarily good … as is the case with Pitso ‘Jingles’ Mosimane.

Jingles is a man of many firsts. He needs just one more – to be the first South African to break the curse of black local talent that gets served a cold shoulder here at home but is adored and relished in foreign lands. The trail-blazing global club football coach qualifies hands down. He has curved his name on the world stage with a string of firsts in history.
No lesser newspaper than the New York Times is rooting for him as the world’s greatest coach this year.

The newspaper has questioned why he was left off the FIFA’s shortlist of Coach of the Year Award for 2021, having won three international trophies.

The story was headlined: When two Champions Leagues titles in eight months don’t count, and had the tagline: “Pitso Mosimane enjoyed a better 2021 than almost any coach in world soccer. Just don’t expect FIFA, or soccer, to notice”.

Any newspaper with the same sentiment here at home? Zilch! Nada! Lutho!

This is all too familiar. More so to Jingles. He was unceremoniously kicked out of the national coaching job by people who had no business running football in the first place.

I am bowled over by the manner in which he perfectly and hilariously describes them: “It was sad to be fired by a taxi owner (then-Safa technical committee chairman, Fanyana Sibanyoni‚ a priest (then-CEO, Robin Petersen) and by a traditional chief (then-vice president, Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana). I even begged them when they fired me – I said‚ ‘Listen‚ don’t fire me‚ I’ve got a lot to offer. I know what I’m doing.”
No one cared toliste … nobody gave a kicking damn.

Today, the bragging rights of ‘I told you so’ belong to retired footballer and current President of Al Ahly, Mahmoud Ibrahim Ibrahim El Khatib, popularly known as Bibo.

Bibo, took notice of Jingles who was the mentor of Mamelodi Sundowns in 2019. It was after The Brazilians bloodied the nose of The Red Devils with a humiliating 5-0 drubbing, in Cairo of all places. At the end of September, the following year, a beaming Bibo, announced the signing of Jingles to the Egyptian media describing him as a “diamond”.

After that, Jingles became the first black coach to win Club World Cup medals back-to-back for Al Ahly, first African coach to win back-to-back bronze medals and the first coach in the world to win two bronze medals in a row at the global showpiece.

The Senaoane, Soweto-born and bred 56-year-old’s impact on the continental stage is no small feat. Jingles steered Ahly to third place at the Covid-19-delayed 2020 FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar in February 2021. This achievement is more notable, given his and African teams pitiable circumstances. His upbringing is completely overawed by that of his counterparts in Europe and South America.

Yet despite all that, footballers have always shone for Africa. In South Africa, Jingles is not the first player to achieve such greatness internationally. There is the pioneering Steve ‘Kalamazoo’ Mokone who became the first black professional in Britain (and later in Holland) when he signed up for the English club Coventry City in 1955.

Today, Kalamazoo is regarded as the greatest footballer South Africa has ever produced, often compared with the world’s all-time greats, including the inimitable Pele of Brazil.

Following hot in his footsteps are greats of the calibre of Ephraim ‘Jomo’ Sono and Kaizer ‘Shintsha Guluva’ Motaung.
The two players plied their trade in America and made names for themselves in that country. There is nothing to show all this to generations to come.

In contrast, foreign nationals have taken it in their hearts to immortalise some of our sons in their lands. Kalamazoo has a street named after him in Amsterdam. Then, there is Sibusiso Zuma. The former African Wanderers and Orlando Pirates attacking midfielder made history in Holland in 2013.

After almost a decade without any championship, Zuma steered F.C. Copenhagen to winning ways at the Parken Stadium. He scored what was to become the greatest moment in that club’s history. He scored a bicycle kick in a crucial 2-0 win. He received that ball on his chest, where he bounced it in the air and executed the overhead kick. This goal has been immortalized in a statue at the Parken Stadium.

Former South Africa and Leeds United captain, Lucas Radebe, was honoured with a 10 metre-tall mural on the side of Sweeney Todd Barbers on Potternewton Lane in Chapel Allerton, Leeds, in recognition of his contribution to the club and towards ‘promoting inclusivity in football’.

Radebe played for Leeds from 1994 to 2005, making 256 appearances in one of their most successful periods in the English Premier League. The beloved centre back earned the nickname ‘The Chief’ from the club’s supporters.

How I wish Jingles may continue to raise the country’s flag globally. We need him to. South Africa’s notoriety as a country in a mess, is spilling the world over. If our national sporting bodies were not this useless, we could be seeing sports heroes like him honoured in a similar manner just so we can smile again.

When Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa wakes up from his slumber, as a hint, Nyambose, go to Soweto using the Soweto Highway.

There is a legendary stadium with a banking company branding around it, you are welcome to have ideas. And oh, before I forget, Madam Mayor of Joburg, instead of your infatuation with Israel, how about becoming good friends with sports?

How about taking some time off your muddled schedule and visit Senaoane? I am sure, as piss follows beer, you will find a house or school there, which can enable your imagination to run wild…

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