SINCE it has never been surpassed, the legendary Moremoholo "Blue" Moshoeshoe carried his feat of being named captain of the national football team at the age of 18 with him to his grave with pride.
Aug. 9, 2023
6 min read
Moremoholo ‘Blue’ Moshoeshoe, national team’s youngest captain, dies at age 73
The legendary Linare and national team captain, Moremoholo "Blue" Moshoeshoe
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The former Linare marksman, who later switched to defence, still holds the record for being the youngest player to lead the national squad.
He passed away on July 16 from sugar-diabetes-related complications.
The once speedy and highly formidable striker, who was notorious for scoring from any position and angle, has been described by many as a jovial and extremely nice person.
One of his nine grandchildren, Shoeshoe Moshoeshoe, said her late grandfather was a phenomenal human being who was also her rock in times of turbulence.
"Our grandfather was unique, and his love unified the family," she told mourners who had braved the July 29 bristling cold to bid the family patriarch farewell at their Ha Mantšebo residence on the outskirts of Maseru.
Moshoeshoe’s eldest daughter, ’Neheng, described her father as the clue that held the entire family together.
"His absence in our lives is going to be a major strain that is already too difficult to bear," she said.
Ironically, Moshoeshoe, a Maseru resident, spent his entire football career playing for Linare, based in Hlotse, Leribe, where his late police sergeant father, Mopeli Moshoeshoe, was stationed.
His former teammate and fellow defender at Linare, Leboko "Tycoon" Notsi, described the late footballer as a true leader on and off the field.
"Leading came naturally for him; even in secondary and high schools, he was already the school captain and later the national team captain, an authoritative position he attained before he turned 18."
Notsi, who is the president of the Football Veterans Association of Lesotho (FVAL), said Moshoeshoe was simply unstoppable when he made his swift attacks from any position.
"He was strong, and too fast, with a deadly right foot. He was a natural athlete, and had begun as a sprinter, hence, running for him came as easily as breathing.
"He had a distinctive way of waving at both teammates and opponents before suddenly penetrating into the enemy lines, and if not stopped on time, he would score from any position."
He recalled how Moshoeshoe’s uniqueness was spotted as a youngster playing for Linare’s development side, formerly called “Bafana”.
"In those days, there were no formal development squads with coaches and all the proper structures in place. Young talent was simply spotted as youngsters chased the ball across the field before the main kickoffs or during halftime."
When Moshoeshoe was a learner at Hlotse Secondary, he had already made the first team at Linare.
"Around 1965–1967, Linare was captained by Tefo "Stitch" Rasethuntša, and when he left, Blue took over as captain. He was only 17 years old, but he fitted in quite well. At the time, he was a formidable striker, tall and swift."
Moshoeshoe became a back-liner by chance.
Notsi, who was at the time a pupil at the neighbouring Sacred Heart High School, was also in the Linare first team line-up.
"The team was invited to play a friendly match in South Africa, and incidentally, our back-liner was for some reason unavailable, so the coach assigned Blue to replace him for the day. That is how he ended up being a quarterback."
Because Linare in those days was star-studded, another deadly forward quickly chipped in to fill Moshoeshoe’s boots on the frontline.
"The team had an ample pool of quality players. After Form C, Blue did not apply for a place at a high school like other learners did. The then principal of Peka High School invited him to move to his school to do his high school education," Notsi said.
When he received his debut call into the national team, he was still at Peka High School, where he was the skipper and the captain of Linare.
"In the national team, he became the fullback and was immediately made captain," Notsi said.
During the 1970 political turmoil that saw most sports activities suspended, Moshoeshoe and Notsi briefly joined the now-defunct Maseru United, which was mostly made up of expatriate players and elite footballers from across the country.
When the state of emergency was later lifted, Moshoeshoe returned to Linare, while Notsi remained at Maseru United.
In 1972 when Lesotho joined the FIFA games, Moshoeshoe led the national squad to its maiden international appearance.
Lesotho lost their debut international FIFA match 2-1 to Chipolopolo of Zambia.
"Although we lost that game, we learned a lot from the experience," Notsi said.
Moshoeshoe’s illustrious soccer career was abruptly cut short when he suffered a serious leg fracture in a Premier League game against Matlama around 1975.
Mourners bidding farewell to the former Linare player
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For his significant contribution to the advancement of the Linare and his services as a dedicated player, the team recognised him in 2013 as one of its legends.
In 2022, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his honourable service to Linare.
An accountant by profession, Moshoeshoe worked for a number of institutions in his lifetime, including the Post Office, Barclays Bank, BEDCO, and the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL).
The Tanzania-trained accountant worked for the CBL as a Foreign Exchange Dealer and later as a Senior Accountant from 1985 until his retirement in 2010.
A former colleague at the CBL, Puseletso Tau, described him as a charismatic person with an amazing sense of humour.
"Papa, as he was commonly called at the bank, was a fun-loving person who enjoyed making other people laugh with his barrage of jokes," said Tau, who is the CBL’s Director of Banking Supervision.
Another former colleague who is in retirement, Kelebone Pitso, said Moremoholo’s insatiable sense of humour and frankness were his most endearing attributes.
His only son, Molapo, who is ’Neheng’s fraternal twin, said his father’s passing came as a big shock to the family.
"He had not been well for quite some time, but we always thought he would eventually recover given his strong constitution," he said.
Moshoeshoe lost his first wife, Motheba Sekake, in 1979 after seven years of marriage.
In 1985, he married his second wife, Nthabiseng Chaake, and they were blessed with two daughters, Manekela and Mpoi.
At the time of his death, he served as both accountant and treasurer of the Lesotho Evangelical Church of Southern Africa (LECSA) at the Thaba-Bosiu Parish under the Mabote branch.
He is survived by his wife, ’M’e Nthabi, his son, three daughters, and nine grandchildren.