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Kocaelispor 1996-1997 Home Shirt in Memory of John “Shoes” Moshoeu

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I am posting this legendary Kocaelispor kit—sporting a classic Diadora design—in memory of the equally legendary South African midfielder John Lesiba “Shoes” Moshoeu.

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The fan favorite passed away on April 21 in Johannesburg, South Africa, after battling stomach cancer. He was 49 years old. On Monday April 27 hundreds of South African football supporters came to Soweto in order to say their last goodbyes to a footballer who represented Bafana Bafana 73 times; he was selected to the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations squad for the last time at 38 years young before retiring at 42. Western media noted that he was one of the symbols of post-apartheid South Africa, one of the building blocks of the nation’s footballing success following the dark years of apartheid.

Moshoeu was a fan favorite wherever he went, and Turkish fans remember him fondly from the days of his ten-year adventure in Turkey from 1993-2003 during which he represented some of Turkey’s biggest clubs including Genclerbirligi, Kocaelispor, Fenerbahce, and Bursaspor. Local websites from Kocaeli did not forget a footballer that played a big part in their club’s golden years, winning the Turkish cup in 1997. Moshoeu himself never forgot Turkey (even though he initially had a tough time fitting in due to his skin color–foreign players were a novelty in the Turkish league of the early 1990s); for the last two years he assisted in coaching youths at a Turkish school in Pretoria and has been involved in many social development initiatives. Ilker Yilmaz, writing for hayatimfutbol.com, noted that he “didn’t neglect to pay football back for all it gave him…because he was Mandela’s man”.

Strangely “Shoes” Moshoeu’s untimely death came just three days before Kocaelispor—the team for which he shined—celebrated its 50th anniversary. One local sports blogger noted that while the club legend battled stomach cancer his old team was battling for its future; Kocaelispor have fallen to the amateur ranks of Turkish football and might even lose their legendary Ismet Pasa stadium, long a feared destination for visiting teams in Turkey’s top flight. Football is a strange game—a young man from South Africa can, somehow, travel halfway around the world and end up with his fortunes intertwined with a small team far away from his home, becoming a hero in the process. Gencay Keskin says it well when describing why he would don a black and green number ten Kocaelispor shirt and yell Moshoeu’s name, running through a football match under the summer sun:

 

“Çocukken futbolcular tam anlamıyla birer kahramandır. Formalarını giymek istersin, saçlarını onlar gibi tararsın, uğruna bir sevdaya tutunursun. İşte benim hikayemin kahramanı ‘Moşe’.”

“When you’re a kid footballers are most certainly heroes. You want to wear their jerseys, comb your hair like theirs; for them you hold on to a passion. This is the hero of my story, ‘Moşe’ [The Turkish transliteration of Moshoeu].”

 

Former Turkish international footballer Saffet Sancakli, Moshoeu’s teammate at both Kocaelispor and Fenerbahce, also shared his memories with hayatimfutbol.com:

 

“İnsan öldükten sonra hep iyi şeyler söylenir ya, onun için söylemiyorum; çok kaliteli bir arkadaştı. Kimseyle problem yaşamazdı. Gergin bir ortam oluştuğu zaman hemen yumuşatırdı ortamı. Çok pozitif bir enerjisi vardı. O kadar mütevaziydi ki medyadan kaçardı, öyle çok konuşmazdı. Sevdiğimiz, saydığımız bir kardeşimizdi.”

“After someone dies good things are always said, that’s not why I’m saying it; he was a very quality friend. He didn’t have problems with anyone. If things got tense he would immediately diffuse the situation. He had a lot of positive energy. He was so humble that he ran away from the media, he didn’t talk a lot. He was a brother we loved and respected.”

 

I send my condolences to the South African football community and the Turkish football community. We have lost a legend–both on and off the field–in John “Shoes” Moshoeu. Toprağın bol olsun mekanın cennet olsun Moşe…

 

In memory of John Lesiba Moshoeu: 18 December 1965-21 April 2015.

 

 

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Image Courtesy of: http://hayatimfutbol.com/korfeze-yanasan-sevda/);

 

 

John Moshoeu of South Africa

Image Courtesy of: http://www.goal.com/en-za/slideshow/3992/10/title/south-africas-10-greatest-footballers-of-all-time

 

 

Sparta Prague 1992-93, Home Shirt

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I decided to eschew a shirt from the store at Sparta’s Letna stadium since the only ones on offer at the time were fairly boring Nike designs; I saved my money for a Bohemians Praha shirt. But that didn’t stop me from finding a Sparta Prague shirt via the internet upon returning home. I had wanted a Sparta shirt sporting this classic Adidas design (please see my Liverpool and Levski Sofia entries) since watching Sparta face Galatasaray in the 1995/96 Uefa Cup as a kid.

Amazingly, I remember the night like it was yesterday. We were in my grandmother’s house as my late grandfather sat on the couch listening to his classical music. On TV was the team I would learn to love, Galatasaray. My eyes caught Sparta Prague’s maroon Nike kits—with the Opel sponsor in the center of the chest. To a kid growing up in America it was all foreign—especially the Opel. Weren’t they just Chevrolets, after all? Still, the shirt reminded me of a fake Bayern Munich shirt my parents had bought me, which carried the Opel sponsor as well. Later I learned that the Bayern shirt was a copy of the era’s design (the same Adidas template and same Opel sponsor as this shirt only on a red background with blue stripes) which Sparta had also worn. Ever since that night I had wanted a Sparta Prague shirt with an Opel sponsorship and here it is.

The fabric is standard Adidas from the era and in Sparta’s trademark maroon with “Opel” printed on the front but with no club badge. I honestly have no idea if this is a latter-day imitation of the shirt (photos and videos from the period include shirts with no badge and the tags are definitely from the era, but one can never know). Still, this Sparta Praha shirt represents a childhood dream fulfilled and that is all I can really ask for at this point.

The shirt being worn against Werder Bremen:

 

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Czech Republic 1996-1997, Home Shirt Matchworn Novotny 20

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This classic Puma design (as worn by Neftochimik Burgas, among others) is one of my favorites. The fact that this one is (purportedly) match worn by Jiri Novotny only adds to its value for me personally. The bright red fabric of this extra-large sized shirt is not shiny like Neftochimik’s, it is more of a matted finish—similar, in fact, to the fabric used by Tomy Sport for Cherno More Varna’s shirt. The numbers and name are both felt printed in a professional manner. In short, a very classy shirt.

 

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