South Africa mourn former coach Ted Dumitru

By Mark GleesonBBC Sport, Cape Town
Former South Africa coach Ted Dumitru
Romania-born Dumitru coached four African national teams during his career

Ted Dumitru, a former national coach of four African nations and some of South Africa's top clubs, has died aged 76.

He passed away after collapsing at a Johannesburg shopping mall, with reports that he died of a heart attack.

The Romanian-born Dumitru coached Zambia, Swaziland, Namibia and South Africa as well as taking Mamelodi Sundowns to a Champions League final.

His correct surname was Dimitru, but was often incorrectly spelt Dumitru in South Africa.

He won several club honours in three decades in South Africa despite being a divisive figure.

Dumitru remained something of a mysterious figure throughout his career, with little neither known nor volunteered about his playing and coaching background.

Ted Dumitru's Honours in South Africa:
1987: Top 8 Cup (Kaizer Chiefs)
1987: SA FA Cup (Kaizer Chiefs)
1998: SA FA Cup (Mamelodi Sundowns)
1997/98: League Champions (Mamelodi Sundowns)
1998/99: League Champions (Mamelodi Sundowns)
2003: SA League Cup (Kaizer Chiefs)
2003/04: League Champions (Kaizer Chiefs)
2004: SA League Cup (Kaizer Chiefs)
2004/05: League Champions (Kaizer Chiefs)

But he was a youthful coach in the old North American Professional Soccer League where he took over the Rochester Lancers in 1974 and had the Ghanaians Frank Odoi and George Lamptey among his players.

He stayed in charge for the 1975 season but they finished bottom of their conference with just six victories in 22 games.

Dimitru then resurfaced as Zambia coach in 1981 when they beat Zimbabwe over two legs in African Nations Cup qualifying but lasted just months. He went to Swaziland the same year before moving across to South Africa as Kaizer Chiefs coach in 1986.

He was an exotic figure when he first arrived in apartheid-isolated South Africa, the country's first coach of eastern European heritage, but battled initially to find his feet.

He failed to win the league title at Chiefs and was fired after two seasons, going onto work at several other clubs and take up a post as the coaching director for the South African Football Association.

One of his more successful spells was at Sundowns with whom he won two successive league titles in 1998 and 1999 and was at helm when 'The Brazilians' went to the African Champions League final in 2001.

They lost 4-1 to Al Ahly of Egypt in the final in tie where despite the one-sided score line many observers felt his side were much the better team.

A second spell with Chiefs delivered two more championships in 2004 and 2005, to equal the South African record for most titles won by a single coach, after which he retired from club coaching.

But with Bafana Bafana in crisis before the 2006 Nations Cup finals in Egypt with the departure of Stuart Baxter, Dimitru took over one month before the tournament.

He promised an exciting time to come as the South Africans beat their Egyptian hosts in Cairo in a pre-tournament friendly on the eve of the opening match.

But in the finals themselves South Africa lost all three group games, failing to even score a goal and he lost his job.

The South African media pilloried him for his bizarre range of excuses after the finals which included "my players don't know how to play in the rain".

But his squad selection included several exciting unknown youngsters who would go onto make an international impact, like Siphiwe Tshabalala, who scored the opening goal of the 2010 World Cup finals, and Tsepo Masilela who played in La Liga in Spain.

Dimitru, who also coached at Orlando Pirates, then became an advisor to Sundowns' billionaire owner Patrice Motsepe and briefly returned to bench after they fired Henri Michel in 2009, but lost all five of his games in charge.

At the time he set a record as the oldest coach in South African football, which Clive barker has since beaten.

Dumitru's team failed to score in any of his five games in charge, losing three and drawing two and his last encounter a 2-0 home loss to Ajax came at the age of 69.

As well as his coaching career he was also heavily involved in development and educating coaches, but was seen as dogmatic in his views.

He was an outspoken proponent of the establishment on a so-called ' South African style of play' with heavy emphasis on individual flair.

He had little time for coaches who played any other type of football and was often sniping from the sidelines.

Dimitru was an American citizen and had a daughter and sister based in San Diego. His death provoked an outpouring of twitter tributes in South Africa with his name quickly trending on social media.

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