Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune gets animated during a game against Cape Town City. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Itumeleng Khune, became emotional in an upbeat interview to celebrate his milestone of making 300 appearances for Kaizer Chiefs when the subject turned to why a goalkeeper of his quality never got an opportunity to play abroad.

“I was told that I am too short,” Khune said. “But the shorter you are, the more agile you are. I think I am agile enough. Actually I jump higher than most tall goalkeepers.

“I always think about the fact that I never got a chance to play abroad but at the same time I just have to accept it because I am happy where I am. I am not too comfortable. I will keep working hard.

“If a team is interested in my services they will contact the club. I would go and represent them well. But if it doesn’t happen, I will just have to set my mind here. There are a lot of great goalkeepers who retire having only played in their own countries. I will run my race in South Africa and reach more milestones.”

The 30-year-old Chiefs captain will feature in game No301 for Amakhosi tonight in their Absa Premiership clash with AmaZulu at FNB Stadium.

Khune’s success at Amakhosi and Bafana Bafana, where he eclipsed André Arendse’s record for the most capped goalkeeper which stood at 67 caps, has come at a heavy prize for those fighting for the No1 jersey with him.

Moeneeb Josephs abruptly resigned from the national team as he felt that no matter what he did at club level he could never be picked ahead of Khune. Brilliant Khuzwayo has been in his shadow since arriving in Naturena in 2012.

“The nice thing about us in the goalkeeping department here at Chiefs and Bafana Bafana is that we have a healthy relationship on and off the field,” Khune said.

“I always call Brilliant and he comes to my house to play PlayStation and talk about life in general. I go to his house and we meet to have drinks.

“He understands that I am not the one who makes the call that Itu must always start. Itu works hard to start and the coach makes the final decision.

“Brilliant’s got great talent, good height and he is confident. He will make it anywhere.

Brilliant Khuzwayo and Itumeleng Khune share a smile ahead of a match. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

“He has been pushing me here. When I was promoted I had to face then South Africa’s No1 Rowen Fernandez. I got to Bafana and I competed with Moeneeb, Rowen and Brian Baloyi.

“Anything is possible. You wait for your turn and when it comes you never look back.”

Khune’s journey to become Chiefs’ and South Africa’s No1 is an inspirational story of hardship, sacrifices and hard work. Born in Ventersdorp, he slept in a train station to attend trials for the club he grew up supporting.

In the 14 years he has spent in the first team of Amakhosi he has won every domestic trophy on offer as well as numerous accolades.

But there is one prize Khune wants to get his hands on, which, should he win, and complemented by the 600 appearances he hopes to make for Chiefs, he would become the club’s undisputed legend.

“I am always motivated to win. I am not chasing records. I am not trying to break anyone’s records, but I just want to continue doing what I love.

“The Champions League is No1 on the list of things I want to win. I have said this before and I will say it again, if Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi can win the Ballon d’Or five times and they are still not satisfied, then who am I to say that I am satisfied with everything that I have achieved?

“If I have to win the league and the Goalkeeper of the Season award 10 times, why not? It’s going to take a lot of hard work, dedication and discipline to achieve that.

“I never planned to play until now. But now I plan to play until I am 40. I work hard. For example, I went to the hospital and slept there for three nights due to chest pains. When I came back I won three straight Man of the Match awards. I was born for this.”


Saturday Star

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