LEGENDS CORNER: Phil Masinga still has one regret

PHILEMON "Chippa" Masinga has one regret in life - he did not achieve his goal of playing for his favourite team Orlando Pirates.

But his love for the Buccaneers did not preclude him from scoring when he played against them.

Though the lanky forward's instinct in front of goal is well-documented, he should be remembered for the historic goal he struck against Congo that took Bafana Bafana to their maiden Fifa World Cup in France in 1998.

The former Jomo Cosmos and Sundowns striking exploits saw him ply his trade in Europe - and he did not disappoint.

We chatted with him about his career and future plans.

Do you still talk about that memorable goal against Congo Brazzaville in 1997?

The feeling that I get every time I watch that game is unbelievable. I told a friend before the match that I will score in that match, and true to form I did.

How was the spirit like in the dressing room after the match?

Broer, it was fantastic, and we celebrated as if we had won the World Cup. But it was not all about me because we played as a team.

Which other goals stand out for you?

The one that quickly comes to mind is the one I scored for Cosmos against Chiefs. It was an overhead kick just outside the 18 area, and it was voted goal of the season.

Who was your inspiration when you grew up?

My cousin Bennet Masinga. He influenced my career.

Are you still moaning at the failed opportunity to play for Pirates?

Yes I do. They had interest in me but I could not join them as I was going to Leeds United.

Who roped you to Elland Road?

They sent their chief scout who followed me everywhere I played. He also followed me when playing for Bafana. I remember after our match against Australia he came to me with a formal approach and I agreed to join them.

How about Lucas Radebe?

When I arrived at Leeds the coach, Howard Wilkinson, asked me if there was a reliable defender that I can recommend back home ... and I chose Lucas Radebe.

Why did you leave Leeds at the time you seemed to be settling in well?

My contract was not renewed and I had to move.

Where did you go from Leeds?

I was signed by St Gallen in Switzerland before going to Italy to play for Salernitana and Bari.

What was your embarrassing moment on the pitch?

Eishh ... I pushed the referee while I was at Bari. We were playing against Bologne and our player was rough-tackled inside the penalty box, but the referee failed to award us the penalty. I lost my cool and pushed him to the ground.

What happened then?

I left the pitch as he was standing up because I knew he would give me the red card.

Who was your best coach?

Roy Matthews at Cosmos.

Do you want to comment to the allegations that you are down and out?

I will be lying if I say I'm not going through a bad patch like everybody else in life. But to say I'm down and out is not true. There were media reports that I sold my clothes and furniture to make a living, and that's not true. That really affected my kids and they were teased at school.

What do you think about Bafana Bafana's chances in the Africa Cup of Nations?

I don't have any doubt they will make it. They have players who can surprise many teams.

What are you doing now?

I'm working hard to get my soccer academy off the ground.