Clive Barker, who passed away on Saturday, was a highly respected coach and will always be remembered for his exceptional leadership in achieving South Africa’s remarkable victories. He is widely recognised as the genius behind Bafana Bafana’s historic win at the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996 and their first-ever appearance at the World Cup in France two years later. This solidifies his reputation as the most outstanding coach in the country’s history.

By Staff Reporter

The nation and the football fraternity are in a state of deep sorrow at the passing of iconic Clive Barker, who departed from this world on a Saturday morning.

With heavy hearts, the family of the legendary Bafana Bafana coach announced his departure from this world on 10 June. The family expressed their deep sorrow and grief as they revealed that the great coach had fought a valiant battle against Lewy Body Dementia (LBD).

“It is with profound sadness that the family of former Bafana Bafana coach Clive Barker announce his passing on Saturday, 10 June after a brave battle with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). Clive, 78, led South Africa to their only continental triumph at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in 1996, and also steered the side to a maiden World Cup appearance in France in 1998, and is fondly remembered by fans across the country, as has been evident by the tremendous support he received after falling ill.

“We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the medical professionals who cared for Clive over the past six months,” read the statement.

“He fought a brave battle, and we are relieved he is now at peace.

“Clive will be remembered by South Africans for his role in helping to bring a nation together around the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations, but for us, he was a loving husband, father, and grandfather, and he will be dearly missed.

“We have been overwhelmed by the enormous outpouring of love and support for Clive since he was first diagnosed with LBD, and this is a testament to the coach, friend, and mentor he was to not only several generations of footballers but also anyone who crossed his path in the sport he so dearly loved.

“We will provide details of the memorial service in the coming days and ask the family’s privacy be respected at this very difficult time.”

The illustrious football scribe, Mark Gleeson, poured out his emotions in a touching homage to Barker, which he penned on “Clive Barker always had an impish grin and a love of dressing room banter, and just being around “his boys” would have him beaming with pride. All the other trappings of sporting success held little interest for the fabled Bafana Bafana coach.

“He cooed like a mother hen over the skills of Doctor Khumalo, loved the mischievous side of Mark Williams and revelled in the talent of John “Shoes” Moshoeu. They were just three of what must be hundreds of footballers who passed through his hands in a storied career that took in both international and club success.”

According to Gleeson, Barker’s enduring legacy lies in his unwavering passion that permeated all aspects of his professional endeavours, persisting even as he transitioned from relative obscurity in the Durban football community to the pinnacle of success in Africa.

South African Football Association (SAFA) President Dr Danny Jordaan said the passing of the legendary coach was a huge blow.

The president of the South African Football Association SAFA, Dr Danny Jordaan, expressed his deep sorrow over the passing of Barker, stating that it was a huge blow.

“We are saddened by the passing of Clive Barker after a long illness,” the SAFA President said.

“Bafana Bafana winning the African Cup of Nations with a South African coach at the helm is still one of the standout moments in the history of African football. Clive Barker signalled the take-off of Bafana Bafana to become the champion of Africa. He celebrated continuously on the touchline, spreading out his wings.

“He has made a major contribution to South African football. He managed to build a strong administration for the team, the captains and the players of that side. It is no wonder that virtually every single one of those players was signed by the top clubs in Europe.

“This made him the only coach that had the entire Bafana Bafana team composed of foreign-based players, and playing in the best leagues in Europe. Clive has been a people’s person and may his soul rest in peace.”

The esteemed Pitso Mosimane, another mastermind in the realm of football coaching, took to the Twitterverse: “The only one in SA to win Afcon. He made players to perform beyond their talent. He was a friend, Coach, Mentor, Leader & a Father. A difficult combination to get out of a Coach. He coached a human being first then a talented football player. I am lucky, he was my Coach.”

For 42 years, Barker dedicated his life to coaching and guiding various teams to greatness. From AmaZulu to Manning Rangers, Durban City to Durban Bush Bucks, Santos Cape Town to Wits, and finally, Maritzburg United – he left an indelible mark on each one. His last assignment with Maritzburg United came to a close in 2016, but his legacy lives on.

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