Frank Pereira was a renowned Portuguese-born South African football midfielder who made a significant mark in the world of soccer. Born on November 2, 1945, in Jardim do Mar, Madeira, Portugal, he left an indelible legacy in the sport until his passing on September 4, 2023. Pereira’s remarkable journey in football and his contributions to the game are worth celebrating.
Early Life and Passion for Soccer
Pereira’s childhood was spent on a farm in Vereeniging, where he honed his football skills by playing with the local black laborers’ children. Despite the prevailing rugby culture in his school, Pereira’s heart belonged to soccer. He faced criticism for his choice to pursue what some referred to as “the black man’s sport.” However, his determination and love for the game propelled him forward.
At the age of 24, Pereira’s talent shone brightly as he clinched the prestigious 1969 NFL Footballer of the Year award, a testament to his exceptional skills on the pitch.
A Prolific Career
Pereira’s professional journey led him to Cape Town City, where he became the team’s top goalscorer in both 1973 and 1974. During his tenure, he played a pivotal role in helping the team secure impressive victories, including the NFL, UTC Bowl, and the Champion of Champions titles.
In 1979, Pereira made a historic move to the Kaizer Chiefs, becoming the third white player to join their ranks. His versatility allowed him to transition into the role of a sweeper, where he excelled. He became an integral part of the legendary Glamour Boys side that achieved the remarkable feat of winning the quadruple in 1981. Pereira retired from professional football in 1983, leaving behind a remarkable legacy with a staggering 276-goal tally.
His contributions did not go unnoticed by the Chiefs’ supporters, who affectionately gave him the African nickname, ‘Baba ka Sibongile’, as a mark of respect and admiration.
Pereira’s love for football extended beyond the field, leading him to a managerial role. He took charge of Benoni United, where he discovered talents like Roger de Sa. Later, on April 29, 1986, he assumed the position of head coach for Orlando Pirates, stepping in during a challenging period for the team.
Personal Life and Nickname
In his personal life, Pereira experienced the joys and sorrows of marriage. He was married three times, with his second wife tragically losing her life in a car accident. At the time of his passing, he was happily married to his third wife, Helena.
Pereira’s famous nickname, ‘Jingles’, traces its origins back to when he was just 10 years old. Playing for Stewarts & Lloyds, he earned the moniker because he always carried two pennies in his pocket as a good-luck charm. These pennies would tinkle in his pocket as he ran on the field, leading one senior player, Bobby Farrel, to affectionately call him ‘Jingle Bells’.
Life After Retirement
Following his retirement from football, Pereira ventured into the business world. He became the owner of Riverside Distributors in downtown Johannesburg. His company specialized in producing various products, including kitchen towels, serviettes, garage rolls, and more.
Farewell to a Legend
In the final chapter of his life, Frank Pereira battled illness for four to five months before his passing. His legacy as a football icon and his contributions to both the sport and his community will forever be remembered and celebrated.
Frank Pereira’s journey from a farm in Vereeniging to the hallowed grounds of the Kaizer Chiefs is a testament to the power of determination, passion, and love for the beautiful game. His story continues to inspire future generations of football enthusiasts.