This morning we learn of the incredibly sad news that Phil "Waltzing” Masinga has died at the age of 49 after a short illness. Masinga joined Leeds United or £250,000 from Mamelodi Sundowns in August 1994 along with fellow South African Lucas Radebe (From Kaizer Chiefs) after being scouted by Leeds United's scout Geoff Speight whilst playing for South Africa. He made 39 appearances for Leeds United scoring 11 goals.
Masinga joined the coaching schools of Jomo Sono at a young age and went on to join Jomo Midas Cosmos in 1988. He was soon noticed by Mamelodi Sundowns and signed for them in 1991. He was an almost instant success with the Pretoria side and was called up by South Africa for his first cap against Cameroon At Kings Park Stadium in Durban on 7th July 1992 in a 1-0 win for Bafana Bafana. He scored his first International goal in his third International, just four days later against the same opposition, in the fortieth minute of a 2-2 draw at Soccer City, Johannesburg.
When representing South Africa for the eleventh time on 10th May 1994 alongside Lucas Radebe (Playing in his twelfth game for Bafana Bafana) against Zambia at Ellis Park Johannesburg, when they were spotted by Leeds United's scout Geoff Speight. There was also interest from several European sides, including Bobby Robson’s Porto. Striker Masinga completed his move to Leeds in August 1994 for £250, and on the recommendation of the South African captain, Steve Komphala, Lucas Radebe was bought from Kaizer Chiefs for the same amount.
The tall goal scorer had helped the Sundowns to the South Africa title the previous season with eighteen goals and was first choice for Bafana Bafana and soon settled into his scoring rhythm in Leeds pre-season friendlies, scoring five times in two games against poor opposition in Italy, as he set about trying to force himself into the Leeds team. He was already up against Rod Wallace, Brian Deane and David White, as well as up-and-coming Noel Whelan and Jamie Forrester, but late in his first season goal scoring sensation Tony Yeboah also arrived.
However, he quickly showed his poaching talents at the top level, scoring a nine-minute extra-time hat-trick after coming on as a substitute against Walsall in an FA Cup replay. His first season at Leeds saw him progress, but with the advent of Tony Yeboah and the rise of Noel Whelan and the arrival of Tomas Brolin, he was only used sparingly in his second year, although he collected an African Cup of Nations winners medal when the competition was staged in his native South Africa. Tall and leggy, he showed good ball skills, but his individual style did not always fit in with United’s system.
Masinga was popular with the fans, who appreciated his wholehearted endeavour. He had taken his International appearances to twenty-five before he left Leeds for Swiss club St Gallen in July 1996 for £500,000 after being unable to get an extension to his work permit, due to the lack of first team appearances. He had remained a regular with Bafana Bafana during his European sojourn and was part of the team that finished second to Egypt in the 1998 African Cup of Nations. He also scored the goal in 1997 against the Democratic Republic of Congo which took South Africa to the 1998 World Cup in France.
Masinga represented South Africa fifty-eight times Fifty-three starts and five appearances as a substitute scoring nineteen goals, making his final appearance as a sixty-ninth minute substitute against Sweden in Stockholm on 15th August 2001 and scoring his nineteenth and final goal in the twenty-sixth minute of his fifty-fifth International appearance in a 2-1 win over Malawi in the World Cup Qualifier on 25th February 2001. South African fans remained faithful to Masinga and he had a considerable following, being widely regarded as one of the best South African strikers of all time.
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