Lest we forget Gift lost forever

Yesterday we woke up to the shocking news that talented soccer star Gift Mpho Leremi was no more.

Like many young sport stars, he had found fame too much to handle and made more headlines off the pitch than on.

But things seemed to shape up for him in recent weeks. Old flashes of football brilliance, which catapulted him from Orlando Pirates' development school to the first team, had happily begun to re-emerge at Sundowns.

Those sterling touches so characteristic of Leremi, 22, are a rarity among players today. Small wonder hopes were high that his natural talent would soon prompt a call-up to Bafana Bafana.

Suffice to say that the path to the 2010 Fifa World Cup finals seemed already paved for him. Only determination and mending his ways - for the better - would have guaranteed this dream.

In trouble, he seemed to find keepers in larger-than- life mentors such as Augusto Palacios, Irvin Khoza and Patrice Motsepe, who had wisely given the child prodigy a second lease on life.

For all the short time he lived, he proved an elusive gift to South African soccer.

As we mourn his death today, the vexed question is: what would have the 2010 World Cup finals been like with him around? Worse, what will the football masterpiece be like without him?