Madigage: A gentleman through and through

JOHANNESBURG - Last Sunday, South Africa bade farewell to one of football’s really good people.

Former Bafana Bafana assistant coach Thomas Madigage was considered among football’s last standing gentlemen of the beautiful game.

He was an honest, hard working and, at the same time, God fearing individual.

Through his trademark Zion Christian Church (ZCC) cap, Madigage had become the most visible brand ambassador of the church and this was shown by the huge contingent of people who came to bid him farewell.

Madigage died in a car accident in the Limpopo Province on October 18 when he tried to avoid overrunning two dead donkeys that were lying on his path.

He swerved to the right hand side where he collided with a trailer of an oncoming bakkie that was coming from the opposite direction.

The bakkie was transporting steel pipes; and one of them tore through the engine of Madigage’s Mercedes Benz and bludgeoned his shoulder.

He died on the spot.

The fact that messages of condolences came from all corners of the world, including the Fifa president and various sporting federations that included Zifa, spoke volumes of how noble and honest Madigage was.

At 41, Tommy, as Madigage was affectionately known, was too young to die.

More than 15 000 people attended his funeral in a small mining town of Driekop, 180 kilometres East of Polokwane.

Speaker after speaker confessed of a man who held no grudges, intelligent and who was very calculating in his decisions.

Madigage started playing professional football for Jomo Cosmos after the club owner Jomo Sono adopted him when he was only 15 years.

He stayed with him in Orlando East, Soweto, and Sono was generally credited with exploiting the talents of the wily midfielder.

At the height of his playing career, Madigage played for Manchester City, Glasgow Rangers and FC Zurich before returning to Mzansi where he played a critical role in the emergence of Supersport United as powerhouse within Mzansi’s Premier Soccer League.

When he hung up his boots, he joined Supersport’s technical team, first as a junior coach and later as assistant to Roy Matthews, Pitso Mosimane and lastly Gavin Hunt.

It is while he was with Hunt that Supersport dominated the Absa Premiership, winning the league title three years in a row from 2008 to 2010.

His position is now occupied by former Dynamos no-nonsense defender, Kaitano Tembo.

When Gordon Igesund recommended him to be his assistant national coach, Madigage jumped at the offer.

He was only three months into his new role when fate cut short his promising career with the national team.

Tommy was a man for the people. Wherever he was, there were no dull moments and yet he held no grudges.
Personally, I had a wonderful working relationship with this professional individual. He used to call me ‘‘Bra T’’ and in turn I would always address him as ‘‘coach’’.

With the departure of Tommy, Bafana Bafana have been left poorer. The minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula, and Bafana coach Igesund, have vowed to win the forthcoming Afcon tournament as a fitting tribute to the true fallen giant of Mzansi football.

Rest in peace my coach! - Tinotenda Panashe

*Tinotenda Panashe is our South Africa-based columnist and correspondent. He can be contacted by e-mail at

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