The painful end of a gifted footballer, Siegfried ‘Thabo’ Tsamaseb

The painful end of a gifted footballer, Siegfried ‘Thabo’ Tsamaseb

Carlos ‘CK’ Kambaekwa
Windhoek – Since the club’s inception in 1963 Katutura giants Orlando Pirates Football Club has over the years unearthed a significant number of great footballers.

The likes of silky attacker Norbertus ‘Norries’ Goraseb (Lolo’s uncle), Lemmy Narib, Daniel Koopman, Ben Gaseb, Willem Eichab, Paul Gawarib Uirib, Eric Muinjo, Steve Stephanus, Gottie Gurirab, Michael ‘Ou Pine’ Pienaar, Doc Hardly, Jordan Afrikaner, Axab Gowaseb and many others were all products of the Buccaneers’ smooth sailing ship.

In all honesty, besides Hardly, Goraseb and Gaseb, very few of the club’s playing personnel could manage to capture the imagination of football followers in the same fashion utility centre-back Thabo Tsamaseb won the hearts of the usually hard-to-please Ghosts’ supporters.

Sadly, the latter’s heart throbbing entry into domestic football was abbreviated by a horrific motor vehicle accident while he was at the pinnacle of his blossoming football career.

Son of former African Stars FC stalwart and founder Justus Katume Handura, the strongly built Thabo was just what the good doctor had ordered for the Ghosts after the inevitable retirement of club stalwart and blue-eyed boy Steve ‘Kalamazoo’ Stephanus.

Despite his rookie tag, football pundits hailed Thabo and correctly so, as the greatest centre-back of his era. Bra Thabo possessed all the required ingredients of a complete footballer.

Football pundits described him as a typical modern centre-back in the same mould as former England cool as a cucumber centre-back Des Walker.

Never short of confidence, Thabo would always initiate attacks from the back, spreading passes to attackers in a manner that would leave seasoned midfielders green with envy. He was equally dangerous in aerial battles, whilst he was also an excellent reader of the game with vision and timing second to none.

New Era Sport caught up with the likeable retired Ghosts’ defender as he relived his shortened football journey and taked of how the game of football has evolved since his playing days.

A product of the notorious Dolam enclave on the outskirts of Namibia’s largest residential area, Katutura, Siegfried Thabo Tsamaseb started kicking around with his buddies in the neigbourhood.

Born in Windhoek’s Old Location on the 6th of February 1966, the athletically built youngster was destined to follow in his old man’s footsteps.

As if this was not enough, elder brothers Zeb Tjitemisa, Nicky (Njangatare) and Amos Kajau, Merino Kandonga (Stars) Manfred ‘Mengo’ Tjazerua (Liverpool) Joel Muserandu Tjiramba and nephew Steven Tjenao (Santos/Stars) were all formidable footballers in their own right.

By the time Thabo entered the fray in the hotly contested exhibition games at the Island gravel field in Dolam, he was already showing signs of being a great athlete.

In his own words, Thabo was a great admirer of Orlando Pirates and dreamed of wearing the black and white strip of the Ghosts. He did not have to wait too long after Pirates (Dolam) was suspended from all forms of official football.

“I played for several small clubs, such as Mamelodi, Iwisa and Jorries Cosmos, before I joined Pirates (Dolam), formerly Cape Cross.”

The notorious Dolam outfit was kicked out of all forms of football under the jurisdiction of the Central Football Association League (CFA) after some of their players physically assaulted referee Martin Kehrmann at the showgrounds.

“My father was not exactly in approval of my wish to join Pirates. He desperately wanted me to join forces with his beloved African Stars, but my heart was always with the Ghosts,” Thabo recalls.

Thabo arrived at Pirates under the stewardship of wily mentor Dios ‘Zebo’ Engelbrecht, Lemmy Narib and team manager Simon Bock.

Although he immediately made an impression on the coaching staff, the strongly built and versatile footballer started out with the Ghosts’ second strings, alongside highly gifted teenagers, including Axalele Xoagub, Phillip Muinjo, Les Goagoseb, Simon Areseb, Zambia and Marks ‘Maponyane’ Hoebeb, to mention but a few.

“The late pair of Ou Geiter and locally celebrated saxophonist Leyden Naftalie used to encourage me to train hard in order to break into the first team and I’m really grateful for their trust in my ability.”

Thabo heeded the call and it was not long before he graduated to the Ghosts’ first team, making his debut against coastal giants Blue Waters in Walvis Bay, partnering the experienced Alu Hummel in the centre of the Buccaneers’ rearguard.

It was one-way traffic from there on, as he became the mainstay of the Buccaneers’ uncompromising defense. Thabo went on to play a pivotal role in steering the Ghosts to victories in the JPS, Castle Lager and Novel Ford knockout cup competitions.

Sadly, aged 24 his flourishing football career was cut short by a horrific career-ending car accident in the city of lights (Windhoek) at the four-way junction next to the Katutura clinic in 1990.

Thabo never recovered sufficiently from the serious head injuries sustained in the accident and was obliged to call it quits. Nevertheless, the brother still has fond memories of his promising, but brief football career.

“Unlike our time, the current crop of footballers are exposed to modern training methods and state-of-the-art facilities, as well as many other benefits that were taboo during our playing time – yet the standard of football leaves a lot to be desired.

“In those days, we used to have great athletes and if I had to pick my best eleven it will read as follows. Goalkeeper: Gruzi Goseb. Defenders: Kumi Umati, Albert Tjihero, Alu Hummel, Mentos Hipondoka. Midfielders: Brian Greaves, Axab Gowaseb, Ambrossius Vyff, Koko Muatunga. Strikers: Steven Damaseb and Ben Gaseb.

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