Eewie was held in high esteem by community and fans

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Samuel "Eewie" Kambule's death is a great loss for South African soccer. He became a star when he was selected as one of the first Bafana Bafana player's in 1992.

Kambule, also known as Mogolo during his playing days by close associates in Atteridgeville, died at a Tshwane private clinic last week after a short illness.

Kambule worked as a prison warder at Pretoria Maximum Prison at the time of his death.

His death comes hardly a month after that of Thomas Hlongwane, Roy Fischer and Leonard Likoebe.

This week Adidas South Africa soccer marketing manager, Mike "Nanana" Ntombela, remembered Kambule as a humble teammate who tackled hard.

"We joined Mamelodi Sundowns more or less at the same time. He was a perfectionist in everything that he did.

"I will remember Sam for his commitment to the sport. He was coaching youngsters in Pretoria at the time of his death."

Stanley "Screamer" Tshabalala, his former coach at Sundowns and Bafana Bafana, said: "He played a pivotal role in the growth of Bafana Bafana.

"Eewie was also instrumental in the success of Sundowns. He used to link well down the right with Jazzy Queen, Harold Legodi.

"I was delighted to hear that he started coaching after retiring from soccer. It was always Eewie's dream to become a coach after hanging up his boots."

Walter Kutumela, a former teammate at Sundowns, said: "Eewie was a professional. He never once appeared before a disciplinary committee while he was at Sundowns.

"He was very vocal and if he thought he was right, he would stick to his decision. He never beat about the bush, either.

"It gives me great pleasure to know that I played a role in his coming to Sundowns after Screamer approached me on our return from the FA Cup final in London.

"I also encouraged him to register for matric, though he was a bit old. That helped him a lot to secure a job as a prison warder," said Kutumela.

Mark "Lesilo Rula" Anderson shared a room with Kambule for eight years at Pretoria Callies.

"Sam was my first roommate when I joined Callies. We both went to Sundowns and Bafana Bafana and continued sharing a room in camps.

"I loved him a lot. He was a clean- living, honest guy. I still can't believe he is no more," said Anderson.

Kambule made history as the first defender to win the footballer of the year award at Sundowns.

He played many games for the NSL Invitation during the dark days of apartheid against All Stars, a team of foreigners based in South Africa.

Kambule was a highly respected community member, especially in Atteridgeville.

His soccer career started at Pretoria All Stars, where he was recruited by Pretoria Callies.

Kambule, who was capped nine times, made a name for himself when he scored the first goal in Bafana's game when Zimbabwe hammered them 4-1 in August 1992.

A service will be held at Mbolokwa Hall tomorrow at 7am. Kambule will be buried in Atteridgeville.