Tshwane honours 'Masterpieces'

This follows a meeting between the Lucas Moripe Foundation, family members, and the former player this week where it was agreed that no conditions be attached to the renaming, as it was an honour for Moripe, and an acknowledgement of his contribution to soccer in both the city and the country.

The formal announcement of the renaming will take place at the stadium on May 16 during a Women's Prayer Day which will be attended by President Jacob Zuma and Tshwane Mayor Dr Gwen Ramokgopa.

The occasion will be a prayer day for a successful Fifa World Cup and for success for Bafana Bafana.

As the stadium is in the final preparations for the World Cup, the event will be confined to the grandstand, and there will be no access to the pitch.

Moripe was probably the greatest ball player the country has known, and during the early 70's, fans called him "The god of football". Defenders feared him, and goalies simply dreaded his brilliant touches.

In his recently published book on South African soccer Mzansi Magic, Joe Latakgomo recalls how Moripe was introduced to soccer fans following an article by Elliot Makhaya in The World newspaper.

"It is not an exaggeration to say that waves and waves of soccer fans made their way to the stadium (to watch Moripe in action)…Shebeens rapidly emptied and 'Ada' – as Moripe's local supporters called him – was the sole subject of animated discussion along the streets leading to the stadium," Latakgomo writes.

Moripe played for Pretoria Callies and led the team to several memorable victories over clubs like Orlando Pirates, Pimville United Brothers and Kaizer Chiefs.

In 1973, he played for the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) Invitation Xl against a selected British All Stars Xl led by Rodney Marsh.

His display earned him both the Sportsman of the Year title in 1973, and a stint for Caroline Hills in Hong Kong.

Moripe built up a legion of fans throughout the country, and it is often argued that if he had been born in Johannesburg, he would have been acknowledged even more.

In fact, Johannesburg soccer fans named him "Soweto", and claimed him as their own. He single-handedly filled the Orlando Stadium when Callies played there – and once, when he was injured and there was doubt whether he would play, fans waited outside the stadium to confirm whether he would be playing before they paid to get into Orlando Stadium.

The renaming of the stadium is the second honour for Moripe in Atteridgeville.

A street has already been named after him, but as he will mostly be remembered for his soccer contribution for the city, the honour to rename the stadium is appropriate.

Moripe, who had been confined to a wheel chair for some years following a mild stroke and the effects of a long-term injury to his knee, is barely able to walk following an operation at Baragwanath Hospital.

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