South Africa football legend, Phil Masinga, has passed on. He was 49-years-old.

The former Leeds United player reportedly died of cancer related disease after being hospitalized since December.

South African Football Association president Danny Jordan announced the sad news, saying “we have lost a giant”.

"We have lost a giant of South African Football, this is a sad day for our football," Jordan said on the SAFA website. "I am really gutted. I saw him last Sunday before I flew to Dakar and although he was not feeling well, he was in good spirits and I promised to visit him again sometime this week and now our hero is gone.

"Phil was a loyal servant of the game, on and off the field of play. His goal against Congo which took us to our first World Cup in France in 1998, is still the most celebrated goal in the country to date."

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Masinga scored 18 goals in 58 matches between 1992 and 2001 for South Africa, including the strike against Republic of Congo, in 1997, that famously secured Bafana Bafana's first World Cup finals appearance, at the 1998 tournament in France. He featured in the South Africa side that won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996 and finished second to Egypt in the 1998 tournament.

Masinga's goal-scoring prowess with Pretoria-based club Mamelodi Sundowns led to a move to Leeds, then in England's top-flight, in 1994. He was part of the same deal that also took compatriot Lucas Radebe to Leeds.

Masinga played for Leeds until 1996, after which he moved to St Gallen in Switzerland. He played subsequently for Salernitana and Bari in Italy before finishing his playing career with Al Wahda in Abu Dhabi.

Now in the fourth tier of Italian soccer, Bari players held a minute's silence for Masinga at their match on Sunday.

Leeds United tweeted: "It is with great sadness that the club has learnt of former striker Phil Masinga's passing. The thoughts of everyone at the club are with his family and friends."

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