Rest in Peace Thomas 'Zero' Johnson
Posted: 23 February 2011 Time: 7:03 pm
I, like many old timers from back in the late 60s and early 70s, will mourn the death of former Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs hero Thomas ‘Zero’ Johnson.
Zero’s passing, along with the deaths in the past of Evert ‘The Lip’ Nene and Edward ‘Msomi Khoza,’ leaves only Kaizer Motaung and Ratha ‘Jimmy Greaves’ Mokgoatlheng of the quintet that were there when the Amakhosi was born.
A legend in his lifetime, ‘Zero’ was a gentle soul off the field; a man who seldom, if ever, raised his voice in anger. On the field, however, he was a midfield general of the highest calibre who had earned his stripes and nickname without fear, performing for The Ghost in the black and white kit of the Mighty Buccaneers.
Originally from Northern Natal, Zero was the rock on which that early Chiefs was built on. Not only was he captain of the very first team, but you would find him virtually every afternoon coaching the squad with Doc Khumalo’s father, ‘Pro’, at Meadowlands Stadium, near Kaizer’s home…a stone’s throw away from where Pirates would be going through their paces across the road from Rich Maponya’s store in Dube.
Zero had attended coaching courses in Germany and brought back videos to pass on his knowledge to the Botswana national team, which he coached at one stage, and then his teammates at Chiefs.
The rivalry between Chiefs and Pirates began almost from Day One with the animosity between players who once were close friends and teammates growing to such an extent that eventually violence erupted, with Bucs’ Percy ‘Chippa’ Moloi and his buddies coming to blows with Zero, Msomi and Ratha.
However, all that is in the past now and with the Derby being played at the weekend it will be fitting if both Soweto giants observe a minute’s silence for a player who served both of them unstintingly and with distinction.
KICK OFF and all its staff would like to pass on their condolences to his family, friends and all who knew him.
May you soul rest in peace, Mfethu.