Khune has made an indelible mark


His wardrobe balanced the dual roles he plays. The white shirt for his corporate side, as ambassador of Danone’s new product Danup in a long list of personal endorsements. The sneakers showed his sporty side, as the No 1 goalkeeper at Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana.

His performances for club and country have made him one of the most recognisable and famous sporting figures in the country, an ideal combination for corporates who use his image to market their products.

The journey for the 29-year-old to get to this point wasn’t easy. He slept at a train station as a young boy when he left Ventersdorp for Joburg to attend trials at Amakhosi.

“It means a lot to be where I am,” Khune said. “I am reaping what I sowed back then. Those are the kind of sacrifices I needed to make to be here. I risked my life as a 12-year-old boy, travelling in a train for that distance.

“I did that because I was a big dreamer. I was hungry for success and to achieve. I grew up in a family where we love football. My dad also played the sport in his time.”

Khune continued: “As the first born of the boys, I couldn’t choose any other sport. As much as I am multi-talented, whether it’s other codes like cricket and athletics or the fact that I can play all 11 positions on the football field, I still had to work hard. Football was an easy choice because it didn’t require much equipment.

“We would just put two bricks as goalposts and use plastic to make a ball. I am happy how I have grown as a person and a player. Here I am now associated with such big brands.

“I won’t stop here. I will continue to work hard in order to grow.”

Khune is in Durban where he will lead Amakhosi against Free State Stars in the Telkom Knockout quarter-finals at the Moses Mabhida Stadium tomorrow. He will be looking to keep his eighth successive clean sheet.

His clean sheets have been the foundation of Chiefs’ turnaround after a slow start to this campaign and a below-par display last season. That bleak period forced Khune to step out and lead the team to a better place. He thrives under difficult circumstances.

He had a “running stomach” in Bafana’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso. That didn’t stop him producing a brilliant display, even saving Jonathan Pitroipa’s penalty.

He had a similar problem during last week’s Soweto Derby against arch-rivals Orlando Pirates, yet he kept a clean sheet. But these situations pale in comparison to what he went through in his first Telkom Knockout final against Mamelodi Sundowns in 2007.

“I was battling cramps for the most part of that game because I wasn’t used to playing 90 minutes plus 30 minutes extra time (playing in only his 12th match for Chiefs’ first team),” Khune said.

“Going into that game, there was a lot of pressure from the fans and the papers comparing me to (Brian) Baloyi. Spiderman versus Spider Kid. I was hungrier on the day. I told myself that if you want to be the best goalkeeper in the country, this is where you have to showcase your talent.

“My going against my role model, the ‘keeper I have always looked up to, meant a lot to me. It was emotional.”

Baloyi is back at Chiefs as goalkeeper coach.

Chiefs will need Khune to continue his solid displays if they are to win this trophy again and avoid another barren season.

Saturday Star

Original source: Khune has made an indelible mark