EDDIE Lewis, whose passion for football was so boundless that he undertook the daunting prospect of coaching two major clubs at the same time, has died in a Johannesburg hospital.
He passed on aged 76 after a long and brave battle with cancer that epitomised his doughty character.
With Kaizer Chiefs and Wits University forced to participate in different high-level leagues because of the draconian apartheid era, the former Manchester United, West Ham and Preston North End player was able to coach both clubs simultaneously.
Lewis attending Wits’ games in the old NFL league on Saturdays and sitting on the Chiefs bench for NPSL games on Sunday.
And such was Lewis’ obsession with the game that he would probably have tried his hand at coaching three teams at the same time given the chance.
He enjoyed a topsey-turvey, sometimes turbulant career as a coach during his 40 years in South Africa with clubs such as Chiefs, Wits, Moroka Swallows, AmaZulu and Giant Blackpool, but emerged with more than his share of success and respect.
In his later years as he fought rampant cancer manfully, he acted as a technical adviser to Swallows and undertook work as a television analyst — while stoically refusing to give up his sessions in the gym almost to the bitter end.
He made 24 appearance for Manchester United and scored 10 goals in what became known as the “Busby Babes” era after the tragic Munich air disaster, but with the club brimming with stars never managed to secure a regular first-team berth.
He started off as a bustling centre-forward or wing, but finished his playing career as a full-back – a position in which many felt he played his best football.
“He had a great insight into the game,” said Premier Soccer League chief operations officer Ronnie Schloss who was the president of Wits when Lewis coached the club.
“He knew exactly what he wanted from his players. You did not always agree with Eddie, but you always respected him.”-SAPA