Death has robbed Namibia some of its finest athletes while still at the pinnacle of their flourishing sporting careers.
As if this is not enough, some of the country’s most accomplished footballers never got the chance to showcase their god-given talent on the international arena, because of the much-despised skewed apartheid laws under the stewardship of South Africa that prevented black athletes from representing their native land internationally.
One such athlete was the late former Orlando Pirates FC attacking midfielder Lesley Goagoseb, better known as ‘Ou Les’, amongst his vast circle of friends in the football industry.
Blessed with an unbelievable work rate second to none, accompanied by a brilliant first touch, the skinny pocket-sized midfielder was a menace to many of his opposing numbers and – despite his relatively tiny frame – used pure skill to outsmart robust defenders.
In today’s edition of your favourite weekly feature, profiling our sports heroes and heroines – New Era Sport brings to you, our esteemed reader, the untold story of one of Namibia’s most accomplished midfielders of all time, ‘Ou Les’ Goagoseb.
Katutura glamour football club Orlando Pirates has in the past produced some of the greatest footballers ever to have graced our football fields and still continue the trend in modern day football.
The likes of the legendary Ishmael ‘Lemmy Special’ Narib, Willem Eichab, Michael ‘Ou Pine’ Pienaar, Daniel Koopman, Eric Muinjo, Doc Hardly, Steve ‘Kalamazoo’ Stephanus, Norries Goraseb, Alu Hummel, Paul Gawarib Urib, African Areseb, Ben Gaoseb, Abel Nero, Gustaf Bassieman Jimmy-Naruseb, Japhet ‘Bump Jive’ Hellao, Namab Gaseb, Bandi Namaseb, Ambrossius Vyff, Ananias Namuseb, Samuel Doeseb, Steven Damaseb were all athletes in a different class.
Born Lesley Goagoseb in Windhoek on February 2, 1966, Ou Les started chasing an inflated piece of leather at an early age – competing in the fiercely contested stake games in the dusty streets of Katutura residential area.
He rose to prominence during the popular unofficial knockout tournaments at the much-adored “Ellis Park” gravel football field adjacent to the giant Lutheran Church in the Damara residential section.
While the likes of Axab Gowaseb, Lucky Richter, Joseph ‘Mombakkies’ Eiseb, Wagga Gogoseb otfen stole the show Ou Les went about his business unhindered as he pulled the strings in the midfield of the park for unfashionable lower division campaigners Challengers Football Club.
It was not long before the wide-awake talent scouts from Orlando Pirates spotted his amazing ball skills and lured the young lad to the smooth sailing ship of the Buccaneers.
Unlike many of his peers who had to wait for chance to wear the revered black and white stripes of the Ghosts, Ou Les walked straight into the Buccaneers star-studded first team squad and any team list without his name on it was considered incomplete.
Such was his immense contribution to the Ghosts’ success in domestic football that he became the main playmaker of the team.
He formed a telepathic partnership with boyhood buddy, African Areseb, in the heart of the Ghosts’ engine room, tormenting the opposition at will with their slick passing game and ability to transform defense into offense with well calculated and quick counter-attacks.
Ironically, his arrival at Pirates coincided with the inevitable departure of the club’s midfield genius, Ambrossius ‘Six Mabone’ Vyff, who had come full circle in a blistering football career that took him beyond the borders of his native land.
Ou Les grabbed the opportunity with both hands and quickly established himself as a vital cog in the middle of the park for the resurgent Ghosts.
His presence also tied in with the recruitment of young highly talented footballers that included the likes of hard-tackling defender, late Salathiel ‘Stimela’ Ndjao, Steven Damaseb, Ben Gaseb, Doc Naomab, Godilla Uirab, Samora Appolus, Sabans Namaseb, Thabo Tsamaseb and Charles Dausab amongst others.
He was one of the most outstanding players when Pirates defeated the ‘Kings of the Night’ Young Ones FC 2-0 in the now-defunct final edition of the then much-sought-after Mainstay Cup final at the packed-to-rafters old Katutura Stadium in Windhoek in 1990.
It was the third time that the Ghosts won the coveted Mainstay Cup, claiming back-to-back wins in 1978 and 1979 respectively, although SKW were strangely crowned champions in 1979 – despite losing to Pirates 5-3 after extra time.
The Dios Engelbrecht-coached Ghosts arrived a good 45 minutes late for the scheduled kick-off time, obliging the trigger-happy organisers (mainly larneys) to conveniently seek refuge in an unpopular ‘green table” resolution that declared SKW as winners, despite Pirates winning the marathon final convincingly.
History reveals that both Katutura giants African Stars and Black Africa boast the highest number of wins in the coveted Mainstay Cup (four times apiece to be precise), followed by Pirates (2) Ramblers (1) Young Ones (1) and SKW’s dubious one (1).
Ironically, no other team from outside the capital ever laid their hands on the coveted Mainstay Cup during the competition’s 13-year run.
The slippery Ou Les was also part and parcel of the Ghosts squad that gallantly stopped the rampant Pedro Atletico right in their tracks after the visiting Angolans walloped Young Ones with seven unanswered goals in an exhibition match at the jam-packed Katutura Stadium in December 1989.
He came on as a second-half substitute and certainly played his part in Pirates keeping the silky Angolans at bay as the two clubs shared the spoils in an exciting, but goalless stalemate.
Pirates’ near faultless performance obliged the Angolans to invite the Katutura giants for a return match in Luanda, Angola, where the Namibians were taught a hard football lesson, losing 5-0.
Unfortunately, the likeable midfielder exited early the game of life on May 25, 2006, aged 40. May his soul rest in eternal peace.