JOHANNESBURG - FIFA Puskas award runner-up, Oscarine Masuluke, borrowed a now-famous line from his coach Kgoloko Thobejane on how he responded to losing the prestigious award to Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud.
The Baroka FC goalkeeper returned from London to a hero’s welcome at OR Tambo International airport on Tuesday despite losing out on the award for the Goal of the Year. His family and Bakgaga fans sang and chanted his name, much to the embarrassment of the shy Masuluke who says that he is still adapting to the attention he has been getting.
The 24-year-old sat next to Italian goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon, at the London Palladium on Monday during the Fifa awards ceremony. Buffon bagged the Goalkeeper of the Year award along with being named in the Best XI while Masuluke left empty-handed. Buffon had some words of encouragement for the lad from Giyani who made international news with his goal from a bicycle kick in the dying minutes of optional time against Orlando Pirates.
“People were recognising me everywhere I went in London,” Masuluke said. “They would grab me and ask for pictures. I am grateful for this experience. Buffon told me, ‘you scored a beautiful goal. I was expecting you to win the award.’ But that didn’t happen. You know, football can kill you.”
That line, ‘football can kill you’, has been made famous by the charismatic Thobejane who says it after going through a lot of emotions in a match. Masuluke also went through a lot of emotions in his trip to England’s capital. The disappointment of losing out on the award was washed away by the love and acknowledgement he received in London.
England striker Harry Kane and Real Madrid’s Christiano Ronaldo both said Masuluke’s goal was their preferred choice for the Puskas just before Giroud was named the winner for his scorpion kick against Crystal Palace.
“Neymar also came to me and asked are you Oscar-ryn? I said yes. But I am not Oscar-ryn, I am Oscarine,” Masuluke said. “I was motivated to keep doing well when I heard Ronaldo say that my goal was his choice. He is the best player in the world. He won the main award. He works hard to be at the top and be the best player in the world. I am also working hard to be the best that I can be. This trip showed me a world I never thought that I could be a part of.Now that I have experienced it, I want to be the best that I can be.”
Giyani will host one big bash this weekend in honour of Masuluke, who has more pressing issues like fighting for his place in the starting XI. He will look to make his first start against Cape Town City on Sunday in the Telkom Knockout last 16 having been on the side-lines in the club’s bright start.
“The only thing I can tell you is that I will repeat what happened (scoring a spectacular goal) so that I can go back there and represent the country again but now come back with the award,” Masuluke said. “I will try and do it again by going to box if we win a corner. I trust myself.”