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KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala pays glowing tribute to 'Sugar Ray' Xulu

KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala said "Sugar Ray" Xulu remained grounded with humility despite his fame.
KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala said "Sugar Ray" Xulu remained grounded with humility despite his fame.
Image: Jackie Clausen

KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala has paid glowing homage to the late and legendary Thulani Cedric “Sugar Ray” Xulu who passed away on Monday.

"Sugar Ray"‚ as he was affectionately known by many football lovers during his heydays‚ passed away after a long illness.

In his message of comfort to the family‚ Zikalala said his death sadly marks “the end of a chapter in the life one of South Africa’s most decorated soccer geniuses whose contribution to the game of football is unparalleled.”

“It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of one of our legendary footballers.

"His death has robbed our country‚ especially our province‚ of someone who made an indelible mark in the football fraternity‚” he said.

A devastating midfielder with a powerful shot‚ "Sugar Ray" is widely regarded as one of the best players this country has ever produced.

“Sugar Ray belongs to the exalted league of footballers whose colourful careers gave meaning to the phrase that soccer is a beautiful game.

"He is the embodiment of the finest footballers that we have produced as a country.

Cedric 'Sugar Ray' Xulu has died at 81-years old.
Cedric 'Sugar Ray' Xulu has died at 81-years old.
Image: Twitter/AmaZulu FC

"He truly represented the best memories of the beautiful game in the country because of his footballing prowess which earned him many accolades over the years.

“He belonged to a generation of footballers who truly uplifted the game which is worshipped by many in the country but remained grounded with humility despite his fame‚” added Zikalala.

Although he played for a number of clubs‚ Xulu is best remembered for his exploits at AmaZulu where he reached the zenith of his career.

To honour his legendary status‚ the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium was named after him in the township of Clermont in Durban where his family home remained despite his soccer stardom.

AmaZulu also honoured him by launching the Sugar Ray Xulu Legacy Foundation in 2017‚ a programme that is endorsed by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government.

His legacy was also celebrated through a novel entitled “Through the eyes of an icon”.

“All these accolades are a true reflection of what an icon Sugar Ray was.

"On behalf of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government and the soccer-loving people of our province‚ we would like to send our deepest condolences to the Xulu family‚ friends and relatives and the entire South African soccer fraternity for losing this legend‚” concluded Zikalala.

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) also sent condolences to the Xulu family.

“The Premier Soccer League is saddened by the news of the passing of South African football icon Cedric “Sugar Ray” Xulu.

"Xulu passed on last night.

"The League would like to extend heartfelt condolences to the Xulu family during this difficult moment.

"Xulu‚ who was recently honoured by the PSL Chairman Dr Irvin Khoza with a Chairman’s Award at the 2018/19 PSL Awards in Durban‚ is regarded as one of South Africa's greatest ever players‚” said the PSL.