On a humid Sunday morning, South Africa was plunged into a state of disbelief. SA had lost another warrior just the day before the anniversary of Senzo Miyewa death.
Although the deaths were due to different circumstances, the numbness felt by their teammates must have been tinged with the same deep feelings of regret.
Football encourages a sense of responsibility for your teammates and some Ajax players might feel that Lolo’s death amounts to a failure in this regard. Questions like, “What if I had been with him?” or, “If only I had called him to come over,” must have run through the minds of Meyiwa’s teammates and must be running through the Ajax players’ minds too.
There is no easy way to negotiate these awful questions, no right or wrong, only shades of black.
But I’m not writing this looking at the negatives but more a tribute to a brilliant right back who was a leader on and off the pitch. Lolo gave so much on the field, it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t give him the tribute he deserves.
Cecil Lolo caught my attention last year with the small details in his game that a camera couldn’t capture. He somehow always saw attacking developments earlier than anyone else and intervened incisively to stop them but what made him relentless was that he wouldn’t stop there – instead he’d sprint up the pitch and put dangerous crosses in.
He was excitingly raw but yet technically equipped. Later, in an interview I’d hear that it was Foppe De Haan who moved him from a striker to a right-back.
But, he was more than a right back. He wasn’t just a leader but a passionate one too. If anyone dared to lose concentration – he’d be all over them, keeping them on their toes, no matter the score.
But again, as a leader, he had a visible ability only to the naked eye. If a team countered, he would get the defense into the proper position before they needed to, which meant that attacks didn’t need to be thwarted because they can’t really get started. All the TV would show is the defense intercepting the ball and you’d be thinking why they always were in the right place.
I’d come to a realization that when you watch an Ajax game, you don’t see Lolo but when you watch Lolo, you see the whole game.
I write this with sadness and regret that I never got to meet my favourite Ajax player. The last memories I have of him is the MTN 8 final, when one of the Ajax players were exaggerating a foul in injury time and he picked that player up – that was not his way of winning.
The other one – was that after every Ajax game I’d seen — Lolo was always by the stands first to thank the fans. Examples of the type of man he was. I can only hope that Lolo’s death is a wake-up call to us all to appreciate our friends and family every day because you never quite know when it’s your last.
The life of Lolo will be eternal in my memory and in everyone else who knew him.