Zero Johnson gets attention from Edward Khoza (left) and Ratha Mokgoatlheng at Kaizer Motaung's home in Phefeni after clashing with his former teammates at Orlando Pirates

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Rest in Peace Thomas 'Zero' Johnson

Posted: 23 February 2011 Time: 19:03

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.

Previous comments on this story...

Super Green
posted: 08:01 pm
Great read
posted: 10:49 pm
Fantastic history. It gives a little some insight of the great days..
posted: 12:19 am
Cyril McAvarey, an amazing obituary for an amazing man ... A legend in the true sense that has left a legacy that will live on forever, "Zero, my hero", we thank you for all the wonderful work you have done, we as the SA soccer family really appreciate it. May your soul rest in peace, & to the Johnson family, our heartfelt condolences ...
posted: 07:20 am
rest in peace, Zero my hero
posted: 07:37 am
so many thanks to all those who made kaizer chiefs to what it is today and to the great man ZERO we say thanks a million once again for doing great job for soccer as a whole. when i read this article my heart really feel what the family is feeling right now and lets hope all will come right.
when all this happened, on the artcle above, there was only ten years left before my mother consive me but because of good writing from all the jonos who know their job, i'm clearly aware on what happened on the early days of south african soccer.

khosi for liewe
Swona Champ!
posted: 09:19 am
Cyril McAravey, well put, amasing the type of scribes @ KO, hope they can learn how to write! speaking english fluently does not make one a better writer! TTM

posted: 10:01 am
May his legendary soul rest in peace, i never had he privileged to see him play or coach, but it sounds like he entertained those who did and his contribution to the game is well documented.

Having said that, the guy was a traitor and a rebel in as far as Pirates is concerned, must they remember him as a hero or traitor in his dead?
posted: 10:09 am
. . . eventually violence erupted, with Bucs’ Percy ‘Chippa’ Moloi and his buddies coming to blows with Zero, Msomi and Ratha.

Okapi & pistol-welding thugs who remained in PieRats after the break-away are now manifesting themselves in Lucky ''Okapi My Captain'' Lekwati and Benson ''Gunman'' Mhlongo as well as in Col. ''Rifleman'' Khoza!!! Can anyone remember what happened to the PieRats chairman or whatever who was knifed right in front of spectators during a game??? (Peace & Love).
posted: 10:20 am
RIP bra Zero!we have heard a lot about you & may you be in the hearts of many even in your grave!
posted: 08:07 pm
pirates fans please stop saying u a going to revenge on chief bcos that is what making yo team loose.
posted: 09:02 am
What a loss!I believe that you have made your contribution and we thank you so much for that. You even contributed a lot outside south africa ( Botswana) we thank you for that as well. you were very unique. most of the south african shun thier neibours, but you did not. Thank you! Thank You!
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