"We have lost more than a referee and an administrator."
That was how legendary and former referee Ephraim Motsoane described the death of the Safa Ekurhuleni deputy president Joseph Matiea.
Matiea died at Natalspruit Hospital in Katlehong last week after a long illness.
Motsoane, Safa's Gauteng appointment officer for the Vodacom League, said they had lost a courageous and true soldier.
"The region and football fraternity has lost more than an administrator and referee. Death has robbed us of a man in whom we had confidence and who had taken soccer in Ekurhuleni to great heights," said Motsoane.
Born in Daveyton on July 15 1959, Matiea moved to Katlehong with his family in the early 1960s.
Matiea attended Matshediso Primary and matriculated at Katlehong High School.
He played for the now-defunct City Ramblers FC. The stockily built Matiea became a feared defender because of his hard tackling.
A recurring leg injury forced him to retire in his prime. But he was not lost to football; he bounced back as a referee in 1982. In 1983 Matiea was appointed secretary of the East Rand Referees Association and later became its chairman for the next five years.
Matiea was a member of the local St Joseph's Catholic Church, where in his youth he served as an alter boy and later as a leading parishioner.
Safa Ekurhuleni president David Nhlabathi said Matiea's death has left a void. "He contributed a lot to the development of football and did exceptionally well as an assistant referee."
Matiea will be buried tomorrow at South Park Cemetery. The service starts at 8am at St Joseph's Catholic Church.