RIP Clive 'The Dog' Barker, a much-loved Bafana Bafana coach who conquered Africa

Former Bafana Bafana coach Clive Barker died on Saturday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Former Bafana Bafana coach Clive Barker died on Saturday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Jun 11, 2023


Cape Town - Clive Barker, the much-loved former Bafana Bafana coach who made history by guiding the national team to African Cup of Nations glory on home soil in 1996, has passed on.

Barker's family confirmed his death in a statement published by COSAFA (Council of Southern Africa Football Associations) on Saturday morning.

Danny Jordaan, the president of the South African Football Association (SAFA) said the legendary coach Barker produced one of the stand-out chapters in the annals of Mzansi's football.

“The South Africa Football fraternity is saddened by the passing of Clive Barker after a long illness,” said Jordaan.

“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.

"Clive Barker signalled the take-off of Bafana Bafana to become the champion of Africa. He celebrated continuously on the touchline, spreading out his wings (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.

“This made him the only coach that had the entire Bafana Bafana team composed of foreign-based players, and playing in the best leagues in Europe.

“Clive has always been a people’s person. May his soul rest in peace.”

Barker defied apartheid regulations in the 1970s to coach teams in South Africa's black townships and had a 40-year career coaching numerous clubs in the top flight of South African football, winning the league three times.

He coached numerous clubs in South Africa, including Durban City, Manning Rangers, AmaZulu (Zulu Royals) and Santos Cape Town.

The family of Barker announced his passing after a brave battle with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD).

The Barker family's statement read:

"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.

“Clive will be remembered by South Africans for his role in helping to bring a nation together around the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations, but for us, he was a loving husband, father, and grandfather, and he will be dearly missed.

“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.

"He is fondly remembered by fans across the country, as has been evident by the tremendous support he received after falling ill.

“We will provide details of the memorial service in the coming days, and ask that the family’s privacy be respected, at this difficult time.”