Goodbye Mr Magic: SA bids farewell to soccer legend

Ted Dumitru was one of the most popular figures in local football and achieved what few have in SA.

Ted Dumitru. Picture: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images.

CAPE TOWN - Ted Dumitru, who died after collapsing at the Eastgate Shopping Centre this morning, was one of the most well-known and popular figures in local football and achieved what few have in South Africa, having spent time at the helm coaching the so-called Big 3; Mamelodi Sundowns, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, as well as spending a short period in charge of the national team Bafana Bafana towards the end of his career.

Born in Bucharest in 1939, he played up until his early 20s before being forced to stop due to a spate of injuries.

Renowned for his tactical acumen, he took up a career in coaching that saw him travel to Germany and the United States before arriving in Africa, where his first job was as the coach of Zambia in 1980 - where he spent two years.

LISTEN: SA mourns Ted Dumitru.

After which he spent time in Swaziland and Namibia before settling in South Africa.

His first job in South Africa was at the Amakhosi and fittingly, that's where his club coaching career would end some 20 years later, winning back-to-back league titles.

In that period, he spent time with great success at the likes of Manning Rangers, Pirates and Sundowns, where he captured two league titles.

Dumitru followed that up by taking over the national team in 2005 but left the post shortly after his side's exit from the Africa Cup of Nations in 2006.

Safa technical Director Neil Tovey says his death leaves a huge hole.

"Ted was seen as a football man through and through, his passion was about the game, often critical as that is what you need when you want to move the game on."

'Master Ted', as he was fondly known in local circles for his formidable knowledge of the game, spent his later years as a technical consultant most notably at Sundowns.

Chairman of the PSL, Irvin Khoza, describes it as a major blow.

"It's a great loss for South Africa, the man was for football."

He was 76 years old.