True brother of beautiful game a pillar of quiet strength

Irvin Khoza, Orlando Pirates chairman, pays tribute to Johannes Riki Ramokgadi

Irvin Khoza, Orlando Pirates chairman, pays tribute to Johannes Riki Ramokgadi

We are grieving the loss of a generous man, who gave to this world so much more than he took.

It is written in Proverbs 11:25: "A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."

Bra Joe Ramokgadi was a humble man who played an integral part in so many great successes, and yet was selflessly content for others to take credit.

James 4:10 says: "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."

We are grieving for a wonderfully loyal man, who earned the trust and respect of so many people in the industry.

It is written in Proverbs 17:17: "A true friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in times of need."

We are grieving for Bra Joe Ramokgadi, a pillar of strength for Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana.

Not many people are aware that Bra Joe had been associated with Moroka Swallows for more than 10 years when, in 1983, he met Black Sunday Masegela and Bashin Mahlangu and was asked to join Pirates as a masseur.

He has been the Orlando Pirates masseur ever since, forever helping and healing, always smiling and supporting.

For 24 years he was an integral part of our club.

Bra Joe was a friend, a confidant and, of course, a masseur.

It has been touching to read and hear the various tributes over the past few days, and there can be no doubting the contribution he made to the careers of so many players - not just with his magic fingers, which healed so many injuries, but with his generosity, humility, loyalty and his heart.

Bra Joe was the epitome of a man who lived to work, rather than a man who worked to live.

I remember times when the team would travel to other parts of Africa, and players would demand treatment at all times. Bra Joe would just smile and do his job.

It was inevitable that the best masseur in South African football would eventually be asked to join the national team.

Bra Joe was a member of the back-room staff when Bafana Bafana won the African Cup of Nations in 1996, and at the World Cup campaigns in France in 1998 and Japan and South Korea in 2002.

On one occasion, he travelled with the national team to the US, and I remember he was so pleased that he was able to buy three pairs of Florsheim shoes.

Some of the younger players were not impressed because that had been a fashion statement back in the 1960s.

Bra Joe reached the highest level of his profession, and excelled. He was an important member of the Pirates squad that won the African Champions Cup in 1995, and he has delighted subsequent generations of Bucs players with all the old stories of Jerry Sikhosana and others ever since.

He bore his last illness with the same quiet strength that we had come to expect from him.

This was a man who didn't make a fuss; who smiled and got on with what he had to do.

And I am pleased that not long ago I was able to visit him at his house in Meadowlands and spend time with him.

Ramokgadi, who was born on April 12 1933, died on March 8. He was buried at Lenasia Cemetery. He is survived by his wife Christina and son Eric.