16 January 2019 – SAFA NEC Member Ms Natasha Tsichlas remembers the good times shared with legendary Phil “Chippa” Masinga, over the past 25 years. The two knew each other since the days when Chippa was the chief striker of Mamelodi Sundowns and this relationship continued long after that.
Masinga was very close to the Tsichlas family not only as a player at Mamelodi Sundowns between 1991-1994, but throughout his football life.
He spent a lot of time with the then Sundowns owners in South Africa and even spent time with them at their family home in Greece. In fact Ms Tsichlas was one of the last people to see Masinga on his bedside only last week before he passed away last Sunday.
Masinga is mostly remembered for his long range shot that qualified South Africa for their first ever FIFA World Cup in 1998 in France, but Tsichlas remembers the gangling striker as a great human being than a soccer star. To her Phil was part of the Tsichlas family.
“I have some sense of relief that Angelo and I visited Phil three days before he passed away. I remember how happy he looked on the day, we all believed he would win the illness battle, but God has his own ways.
“As soon as we walked in, I remember the smile on his face as he told everyone in the room, that these are my parents [referring to Natasha and Angelo Tsichlas].
“We reminisced on some of the great times we have had over the pasted years, and two very special memories came up,” recalled Tshiclas.
The late Masinga played for Mamelodi Sundowns from 1991- 1994, where he scored 100 goals from 108 matches, then the best ever club record in South African football.
“Part of Phil’s career was to score goals. He loved scoring goals,” added Tshiclas.
“Phil was such a professional, a gentleman and also confident and motivating to the other players. I used to wish that all my players had his qualities,” said Tsichlas.
Tsichlas also spoke about the relationship that Masinga helped to establish between Sundowns and Leeds when he moved abroad.
“We had an agreement with Leeds United that they would come to play Sundowns in a friendly match after Masinga made his move to the UK-based club. This match was historic as it was the first international football match ever played at Loftus Stadium.
“Masinga’s move to Leeds United allowed for this. The match was played on a Tuesday and I remember very vividly how he played the first half for Leeds and the second half for Sundowns,” she said with a chuckle.
“The score was goalless at half time and he scored the winning goal for Sundowns in the second half and we beat Leeds 1-0. The supporters went wild, and this is the first time football supporters stood up and sang the new South African national anthem in Loftus Stadium,” said Tsichlas.
“Masinga’s death has come as a big shock to the nation, and we as the Tsichlas family have lost a son. We send our condolences to the Masinga family and international football community at large. “