Clive Barker’s contribution to South African football will never be forgotten!

Clive Barker during the 2018 The Coach Clive Barker Book Launch at the Exclusive Books, Rosebank Mall on 12 July 2018 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Since the weekend, condolences have poured in for the Barker family as news came that Clive Barker, the former coach of various teams and the South African national team, had died at the age of 78. The family announced his passing last Saturday, June 10. The family said that Barker battled Lewy body dementia (LBD) for a lengthy period of time.

“We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the medical professionals who cared for Clive over the past six months. He fought a brave battle, and we are relieved he is now at peace,” the statement said.

“We have been overwhelmed by the enormous outpouring of love and support for Clive since he was first diagnosed with LBD, and this is a testament to the coach, friend, and mentor he was to not only several generations of footballers but also anyone who crossed his path in the sport he so dearly loved,” said the family.

Barker was a well-known and respected figure in South African football as a coach. During the apartheid era, he got active in Black football. He has coached a number of teams, including AmaZulu, Fynnlands, Pinetown Celtic, Juventus Durban, Durban City, Santos, Manning Rangers, Maritzburg United, Bidvest Wits, and Mpumalanga Black Aces.

The excellent work he accomplished for Bafana Bafana a few years following South Africa’s comeback to international football is what football fans remember him for most. He helped Bafana Bafana in 1996 when they won the Africa Cup of Nations. After that, he guided South Africa to the 1998 World Cup in France. Due to his dismissal by the Safa management, he unfortunately never travelled to their first World Cup with Bafana Bafana.

One of the first people to convey condolences to the Barker family was AmaZulu President Sandile Zungu. Barker got appointed by AmaZulu after assisting them in winning the Coca Cola Cup in 1992. “We offer our condolences to the Barker family. His contributions to football on the African continent will live on in memory. Football fans, like me, hold him in high regard for his contributions to AmaZulu,” added Zungu.

Dr. Danny Jordaan, the president of Safa, has also acknowledged the grief felt by the football community upon hearing of his passing. “The South Africa Football fraternity is saddened by the passing of Clive Barker after a long illness. Bafana Bafana winning the African Cup of Nations with a South African coach at the helm is still one of the standout moments in the history of African football.

“He celebrated continuously on the touchline, spreading out his arms. Barker had his trademark unique aeroplane celebration on the touchline whenever the national team scored. He has made a major contribution to South African football.

“He managed to build a strong administration for the team, the captains and the players in that side. It is no wonder that virtually every single one of those players was signed by the top clubs in Europe after the side won the continental crown. Clive has always been a people’s person. May his soul rest in peace,” said the Safa President.