SPORTS Minister Chishimba Kambwili led the football family in eulogising the late former Zambia soccer team striker, Dennis Lota during a memorial service held in South Africa ahead of burial today.
Kambwili said Lota, who died on Tuesday last week, should be celebrated as a football legend both in Zambia and South Africa.
Lota, 40, died of suspected Malaria at the Hellen John Hospital in Johannesburg and will be buried at the West Park Cemetery.
Speaking during a memorial service held at the Harvest Time Dome Church in Clairmont, Johannesburg on Monday night, Kambwili said Lota was a highly respected and much loved sports figure.
This is contained in a statement released by first secretary for press at the Zambia mission in South Africa, Patson Chilemba.
Kambwili said that Zambia and the football fraternity will forever remain indebted for the contributions Lota made to football.
He said Lota was one of the best strikers Zambia had ever produced and that he brought joy to the nation and beyond through his immense contribution to football.
“On behalf of the people and government of Zambia we are here to convey our heartfelt condolences to Lota’s family, and to Dennis, my last words to you are that you will be fondly missed,” Kambwili said.
And Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) president Kalusha Bwalya said Lota was someone who was always eager to develop himself as a footballer and a coach.
Kalusha said he was pleased that the late soccer player was able to be in the first class of the CAF A coaching license.
He said humility, dedication and hard work were the hallmark of Lota’s legacy.
Moroka Swallows coach Zeca Marques said Lota was never a man to step back from challenges.
Marques said Lota’s career, both on and off the football field, was testament to the battles he conquered and the hearts that he won.
He said the club counted themselves lucky to have befriended Lota, with his inspiring qualities of sincerity, respect and honesty.
“How we will remember the team talks where Dennis would close with the ‘Golden Key’, Dennis was also a good counsellor, his ability to say the right words would quickly defuse any conflict and harmony would be restored,” he said.
Among those who paid tribute to the late Lota included the Association of Zambians living in South Africa (ZASA), Lota’s daughter Micala, Swallows captain Lefa Tsutsulupa, and former teammate at Orlando Pirates and Swallows Innocent Chikoya.
Other prominent personalities included Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa Muyeba Chikonde, some players playing for the South African national soccer team, including Lerato Chabangu and Katlego Mashego, as well representatives from the PSL.