Thousands salute their fallen idol

Kamogelo Seekoei

Kamogelo Seekoei

South African soccer buried one of its most talented players when Gift Mpho Leremi was interred yesterday.

Leremi was killed last week when he lost control of the BMW he was driving on Kliprivierberg Road in Ekurhuleni.

More than 3000 mourners attended the funeral service at Grace Bible Church in Pimville, Soweto. Many came clad in the colours of their clubs and vuvuzelas sounded throughout the event. Fans chanted his name, danced in his honour and gave him a send-off befitting a national soccer idol.

Government officials, soccer bosses, players and those who knew him personally behaved more sedately.

Cosatu president Willie Madisha, Gauteng sports MEC Barbara Greecy, Kaizer Motaung, Patrice Motsepe and Irvin Khoza were among the mourners .

Speakers described Leremi as a passionate player with a special talent who had been expected to play a starring role in South Africa's 2010 World Cup effort.

Tebogo Moloi, assistant coach at Orlando Pirates, said he was a rare gem, always cheerful and someone who could cast aside his problems and play football.

"There are three kinds of players: those with passion, those with talent and passion, and those with passion and a special talent. Leremi was one of those players in the third category."