JOHANNESBURG - Khama Billiat has received the best endorsement a player can wish for following his move to Kaizer Chiefs from Mamelodi Sundowns. The Zimbabwean superstar has been handed the number 11 jersey at Amakhosi, and the man who made it the club’s most famous approves.
“I would have also given it (the jersey) to him because I know he will do it justice,” said Chiefs legend Teenage Dladla who wore the jersey in the 80s. “Khama is something special, he is a very good player.”
Ironically now working for Sundowns, Dladla believes that Billiat is far from over the hill as some clearly bitter fans of his former club have been suggesting since his move from Chloorkop to Naturena.
“Look, I think he will do wonders for Chiefs just like he did here at Sundowns. You just need to look at what happened in that Shell (Helix) Cup. Chiefs lost the game (against Sundowns) but he still won the man of the match award. That tells you just how special a player he is because it is rare, generally the man of the match goes to the winning team.”
Whereas in football it is the number 10 jersey that is the most revered, at Chiefs it is the number 11 which Dladla elevated to lofty heights during Amakhosi’s heydays in the 80s. Slight of built, just like the Zimbabwean Billiat, Dladla was always a menace for the opposition - his dribbling skills and ability to take opposition on second to none.
Given his impact, the club has always seemed to be very careful as to who they give the jersey to and just about everyone who has donned it did not disappoint. The late Isaac Shakes Kungwane was a renowned wizard of dribble albeit not in Dladla’s mould for he would never be seen flying down the wing. Yet his set pieces and his skills were legendary.
It was perhaps Jabu Pule (now Mahlangu) who reminded most of Dladla when he donned the jersey. Also from the East Rand like Teenage, the player they called Shuffle still has vivid memories of inheriting that famed jersey.
“The day I was handed that jersey was a very special occasion for me but at the same time I knew that it came with a lot of responsibility because Teenage Dladla wore that jersey and he is a legend. I knew that I was under pressure from the onset,” Mahlangu told Independent Media this week.
“As much as I liked that jersey, I had to show why I deserved to wear it by consistently doing well and helping the team win. The jersey meant a lot to me not only because it was Teenage’s jersey but because 11 is a special number for me, I was born on the 11th of July. Things just came together for me regarding getting No 11.”
He hopes that Billiat is aware that he is not just wearing any jersey. Both Abia Nale and Knowledge Musona also had the privilege of wearing the jersey and their contribution to the club was stellar. “Trust me, Khama will do well at Chiefs,” Dladla assured. “But not against us (Sundowns),” he laughed.