Tributes pour in for former Bafana coach Clive Barker

Tributes pour in for former Bafana coach Clive Barker
Former Bafana Bafana coach Clive Barker on the sidelines on 1 May 2002 at Loftus Versveld, Pretoria. (Photo: Duif du Toit / Gallo Images)

Following his death after illness, there has been a flood of tributes for former Bafana Bafana coach and Africa Cup of Nations winner Clive Barker.

After being diagnosed with Lewy body dementia (LBD) in March, revered former Bafana Bafana coach — who famously guided the team to their one and only Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) triumph in 1996 — lost his battle with the condition.

At the age of 78, Barker’s health had deteriorated — so much so that in January he was hospitalised after suffering an aneurysm.

In a statement on Saturday, his family said they were relieved that he was no longer in pain.

“We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the medical professionals who cared for Clive over the past six months,” the Barker family said. “He fought a brave battle and we are relieved he is now at peace.”

clive barker

Then-Black Aces manager Clive Barker during the Absa Premiership match between MP Black Aces and Bidvest Wits at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on 5 April 2014. (Photo: Manus van Dyk / Gallo Images)

“Clive will be remembered by South Africans for his role in helping to bring a nation together around the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations. But for us, he was a loving husband, father and grandfather, and he will be dearly missed.

“We have been overwhelmed by the enormous outpouring of love and support for Clive since he was first diagnosed with LBD, and this is a testament to the coach, friend and mentor he was to not only several generations of footballers, but also anyone who crossed his path in the sport he so dearly loved.”

Along with that triumphant Afcon campaign — which South Africa’s senior men’s side has not come close to replicating since — Barker also guided South Africa to their first Fifa World Cup appearance in 1998.


“Bafana Bafana winning the African Cup of Nations with a South African coach at the helm is still one of the standout moments in the history of African football,” said South African Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan.

“Clive Barker signalled the takeoff of Bafana Bafana to become the champion of Africa. He celebrated continuously on the touchline, spreading out his wings.

“He has made a major contribution to South African football. He managed to build a strong administration for the team, the captains and the players of that side. It is no wonder that virtually every single one of those players was signed by clubs in Europe.”

Outside of coaching Bafana Bafana, the Durban-born tactician sat in the dugout clad in the colours of local clubs including AmaZulu, Santos and Maritzburg United, to name a few.

“He was a friend, coach, mentor, leader and a father. A difficult combination to get out of a coach. He coached the human being first. Then a talented football player. I am lucky he was my coach,” said Pitso Mosimane, a former Bafana Bafana coach and player.

“Clive Barker was one of the most influential sports figures of his generation. He united a country when he coached Bafana Bafana to African Cup of Nations glory in 1996. And we were not only champions of Africa, but one of the world’s most accomplished teams,” said Barry Hendricks, the president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc).

Political parties also hailed Barker’s contribution to South Africa at a time when the country was emerging from a very dark period in its history.

“This loss is not just felt within the sports community, but by all those whose lives were touched by Clive’s indomitable spirit, unwavering passion, and remarkable contributions to the beautiful game,” said the Economic Freedom Fighters.

These sentiments were echoed by the ANC.

“He was the epitome of excellence and leadership, cementing South Africa as a formidable force in the sporting world… The ANC recognises his contribution to building a non-racial sport and the development of grassroots sports.” DM


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