Kaizer Chiefs is in mourning as they bid farewell to a significant figure in their history, former Atlanta Chiefs president Dick Cecil. Cecil’s role in signing Kaizer Motaung back in 1968 is remembered by the club with reverence.
The passing of Dick Cecil, who played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Atlanta Chiefs, a North American Soccer League (NASL) team, marks a poignant moment for Kaizer Chiefs. In 1966, Cecil was instrumental in the construction of Atlanta Stadium, which aimed to attract a major baseball team to the city. The relocation of the Milwaukee Braves franchise to Atlanta to become the Atlanta Braves marked a turning point, with Cecil assuming a key role in the Braves’ operations.
Cecil’s entrepreneurial acumen led him to introduce soccer to Atlanta, a move prompted by the considerable interest in soccer following the 1966 FIFA World Cup. After initially participating in the renegade National Professional Soccer League, the Atlanta Chiefs joined the newly formed NASL, which was broadcast nationally on CBS for the first time. Capitalizing on Atlanta’s diverse demographic, Cecil envisioned the Atlanta Chiefs as a globally diverse team. This vision materialized in the form of Kaizer Motaung’s arrival in Atlanta, along with several other players from Africa. Motaung’s debut in 1968 against Manchester City marked the beginning of a historic journey, as he contributed significantly to the Chiefs’ success, scoring 11 goals and leading them to the NASL title in their inaugural season.
The impact of Cecil’s actions reverberated beyond the pitch. Motaung, also known as ‘Boy-Boy,’ remembered Cecil’s contribution to his career and his decision to establish a club in South Africa, which ultimately led to the creation of Kaizer Chiefs. The bond between Cecil and Motaung extended beyond their professional relationship, as evident in the heartfelt tribute paid by Motaung upon learning of Cecil’s passing. Cecil’s legacy lies not only in his business acumen but also in his profound influence on the growth and popularity of soccer in Atlanta. His vision and determination laid the foundation for the ongoing passion for the game in the city. Motaung’s impact on and off the field is celebrated, with his presence transcending borders and inspiring generations of soccer enthusiasts. In commemorating the life and contributions of Dick Cecil, Kaizer Chiefs acknowledges the pivotal role he played in shaping the trajectory of the club, the sport, and the enduring bond between South Africa and Atlanta.