15 June 2023 – As a member of the class of ‘96 team, I have worked with Mr Clive Barker, and I am deeply saddened by his passing on. I am sure that my class of ‘96 teammates, friends and brothers are feeling the same way as I do.

I know that all football loving people in the country, in the continent and across the world are with us in this feeling.

We are saddened by the passing away of our mentor, our coach and father. He called us his boys, he loved and cared for us and we loved him too. I am positive that anyone who knew, met or interacted with Clive has felt his warmth, compassion and kindness. He had a huge influence on all of us, on and off the pitch. He nurtured, motivated and encouraged all of us and the youth. He was a great coach, a leader and nation-builder.

When he took over Bafana Bafana in 1994, the team lacked cohesion and consistency. In a nutshell, the team was divided, not only with itself but it was also disconnected from the South African people.

Clive wanted complete unity in the team and a deep connection with the nation, the source of pride and joy. Clive knew that the team had exceptional talented individuals with immense potential.

His plan was to focus on developing our personalities and characters. He gave us self-belief, confidence and the freedom to fully express ourselves, on and off the pitch. He brought unity, discipline and work ethics. He wanted us to be the best human beings and the best professionals possible.

There was never a dull moment with Clive, we worked hard and we worked smart, always enjoyment and fun. He demanded higher standards, efficiency and excellence. As the team spirit grew inside the camp, he introduced outreach programs to connect with the nation.

We visited communities, urban and rural, hospitals and conducted clinics, made speeches. He brought us closer to the people, we shook hands and signed autographs. Every small gesture counts to Clive, in building relations and bonding.

He spoke to us about national pride, honor and the privilege of representing your people, your country. Wherever we went, our people cheered and sang for us. Slowly, it dawned on us that this game is not just a game, it is the pride of a nation, the essence of who we are.

It was a stimulus for our young democracy, a united rainbow nation. Of course SAFA, government and corporate played a huge role to support the team, but Clive was the driver, never alone, always inclusive. This connection, with the people, was a humbling experience and inspirational, it brought us even closer together, as a team.

There was no more Orlando Pirates, KaizerChiefs or Mamelodi Sundowns players, the divisions disappeared and a new team emerged, a national team called Bafana Bafana. The work rate within the team increased and competition sky-rocketed. We pushed each other to the extremes of our abilities, helped each other along the way.

We became united, unshakeable and an invincible team. Throughout this process and period leading up to the ‘96 AFCON tournament, Clive nurtured us, instilled discipline and strong mentality in the team. He made sure we were prepared and fully focused for the challenge ahead. He wanted us to give everything, and to win.

Our performances in the Four Nations tournaments and against Germany at Ellis Park are testament to the standards he demanded. The success of the Springboks in ‘95 rugby World cup added more expectations and pressure on Bafana Bafana, Clive believed in us, he knew that we can do it and we succeeded together, as a nation, united.

We conquered the continent. His passion for the game was evident in his celebrations and urging of the supporters to rally behind the team. He was meticulous and strategic. His achievements will continue with his legacy. If there is anything we can do to show thanks and gratitude, is to do it again, together, as a nation, united in his honor. He was a giant, a legend and a great man.

Everything else is history, is in the public domain.

Condolences to his family and friends and to the nation that he made so proud. May his soul rest in Peace. God bless and I humbly stand down. I thank you. (David Nyathi was a cornerstone of the 1996 winning Bafana Bafana squad and is now the head of scout at SAFA).