Dennis "China" Gaseboni was a born leader, an outstanding sportsman and disciplinarian who touched many lives in his lifetime.
His death last Sunday came as a shock to family and friends.
Gaseboni was born on April 18 1969 in Wattville, Benoni. His small eyes and love of gymnastics earned him the nickname "China".
A soccer lover from an early age, he was in the Under-10 squad of East Rand United, then campaigning under the once mighty Wattville Football Association. Even then his coaches were impressed by his dedication and commitment to the game. He was elected captain of the juniors.
He went on to play for Wattville Hearts and Actonville Wolves and captained both the Under-14 and Under-15 teams.
Gaseboni attended Magalegase Primary School in Wattville, where he was a prefect in every grade.
The principal relied on him to open and lock classrooms. He was also the captain of the school soccer team and also excelled in athletics.
At Lesabe Primary School, where he completed Standard Six, teachers regarded him as a model of how other pupils should conduct themselves.
Gaseboni was always neat, polite and punctual.
As a youngster, his ambition was to follow in the footsteps of his cousins, Veli "Commissioner" Mzimela and Veli "Principal" Mzimela, who both played for Benoni United and took education seriously.
His ball skills and goal-scoring prowess did not go unnoticed as he was recruited to Wattville Watford by the late Cheesa Nkambule. At Etwatwa High School he was converted from a striker to goalkeeper of the senior team, in which he was teammates with superstars Isaac Shai, formerly of Mamelodi Sundowns and Collen "Blackstone" Tlemo, now assistant coach of Jomo Cosmos.
Gaseboni's last job was at Dan's Empire, where he was the operations manager and driver/ supervisor.
His friend and former teammate Peter Mavundla said he would miss Gaseboni's "jokes and easy-going manner".
"We would laugh the whole night when we were in camp. He always had everyone in stitches.
"Sometimes we would even forget that we had an important soccer match the next day," said Mavundla.
Gaseboni will be buried at Rynsoord Cemetery in Wattville tomorrow. His funeral service starts at 7am at the Wattville Youth Centre.