Kaizer Motaung celebrated his 73rd birthday on Monday. Photo: Aubrey Kgakatsi/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune has paid tribute to club chairman Kaizer Motaung, who turned 73 on Monday.

Khune said: “The chairman is very humble. He’s a real father figure to me, not only when it comes to soccer advice, but also about life in general. Besides that, his door is always open.”

Khune was full of excitement when Motaung suddenly entered the dressing room after Bafana Bafana beat Burkina Faso in a crucial World Cup qualifier. “I couldn’t believe what I saw,” the goalkeeper reflected.

“It showed the unbelievable passion he has for the game of soccer. I think he breathes football. And that passion is addictive, as I have incorporated that same sentiment for the game into my career as well as, of course, my love for Chiefs.”

The Chiefs chairman was joined by Safa boss Danny Jordaan, Minister Blade Nzimande and other soccer dignitaries, including Mamelodi Sundowns boss Patrice Motsepe, who said in the dressing room: “Nelson Mandela was our political leader. However, Kaizer Motaung is the Mandela of South African football.”

Goalkeeper Khune came for trials at Amakhosi in 1999. Five years later, Motaung watched the shot-stopper doing well in goal in a reserve team game against Wits.

Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune paid tribute to club chairman Kaizer Motaung on Monday. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

Afterwards, the Chiefs chairman advised coach Ted Dumitru and his assistant Farouk Khan to have a look at this talented youngster.

“The chairman knew that Brian Baloyi was leaving the club in 2004,” said the now-30-year-old Khune. 

“He was obviously happy with what he had seen of me. This rubbed off and it highly motivated me. Later on, it helped my younger brother Lucky as well.”

The goalkeeper is “grateful to spend so many years under his leadership. It has been a tremendous journey and I learn every time I talk to the chairman.

“Mister Chairman, please always be the figure that you are, both for the club and the nation as a whole,” Khune said about Motaung’s 73rd birthday. “Happy birthday – may you see many more.”

African News Agency (ANA)