South Africa captain and goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa was shot and killed by burglars on Sunday, the BBC reports.
Meyiwa, 27, may have been defending his girlfriend, singer Kelly Khumalo, from two men who broke into her home south of Johannesburg around 8 p.m., according to police. The burglars reportedly tried to rob them of their cell phones. Police said a third burglar waited outside the home.
The burglars fled on foot after shots were fired, and Meyiwa was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.
Meyiwa, a goalie, had led his club team, the Orlando Pirates, to a 4-1 victory on Saturday.
South African President Jacob Zuma said in a statement on Monday: "We mourn the death of this young footballer and team leader whose life has been taken away at the prime of his career. Words cannot express the nation's shock at this loss."
Meyiwa did not allow a goal during South Africa's four African Cup of Nations qualifying matches. South Africa head coach Ephraim Mashaba said he excelled since being named captain in September.
"Since he took on that (captain's) role, we never had issues with the team and staff," Mashaba said, via the Daily Mail. We never had issues with players coming to us after that. He had that personality that meant that he could easily diffuse a situation. I spoke to a lady earlier, from last week in fact. Where he heard she was building a house. He gave her money to carry on. Senzo was not just a goalkeeper. He was a peacemaker. That's the biggest thing I remember about him. A good guy like Senzo will never just vanish. His spirit will live forever."
Police commissioner Riah Phiyega announced the two suspects are believed to be in their late twenties and that the third is in his early thirties.
- Paul Palladino