Bafana’s new golden boy

By Drum Digital
12 January 2011

IT WAS a moment of sheer terror. But as he defended his goals against a bunch of grown men, the 10- year-old could feel his heart bursting with pride. This was it – his big moment to show what he was made of.

Today we can safely report that Thanduyise Khuboni rose to the occasion. Back then the now 24-year-old midfield maestro was just a talented kid who had been called to join a street soccer game in his hometown of Clermont, Durban. One team – finding themselves a man short – picked him to make up the numbers and had him play in goal. And after a few good saves and speedy passes, the youngster left with a big reputation and an even bigger dream to spend his life playing the beautiful game.Now as one of Mzansi’s most gifted midfielders he’s the man who holds the highriding Lamontville Golden Arrows in shape and has secured himself a permanent spot in the national team.

“It’s an honour to be part of the South African side,” he tells DRUM in an interview at his two-bedroom pad near Durban’s North Beach. “The experience has been great and it will open up many opportunities for me.”

He has just come back from gym and is gearing up for a quiet afternoon with some sport on TV at home. Looking at his darkgrey Golf 6 GTI parked outside, his neat little bachelor flat with his prized collection of house and kwaito CDs and stacks of DVDs, it’s difficult to picture the star growing up in poverty. His dad was wheelchair-bound after being shot, leaving his mother to keep the family alive on her measly salary. Times were tough, but that didn’t stop the youngster from keeping his dream alive and forging a brilliant career.

“I’m grateful for what I have achieved, and I’m still young and looking to the future. But all credit should go to my former coach at Golden Arrows, Manqoba Mngqithi. He’s the one who gave me my big chance.”

AS A child his gogo nicknamed him Gonondo, which was her special term of endearment for the nifty little fellow. The name stuck and although he’s enjoying a good life today, he can never forget the painful memories of life growing up. He was raised in the bleak township of Clermont, one of the few places where black people were allowed to buy property during the apartheid days.

“We were not well-off even though we owned the house. It was falling apart and we had no money. It was painful because I always had to borrow if I needed something.”

To add to the hardship, his father Jerome was shot by thugs trying to mug him late one night in 2005. “They shot him in his spine, so he was wheelchair-bound until his death in 2008. It was very difficult for me, especially because he died just when my soccer career was taking off,” he says, emotional.

“He loved soccer very much. He supported Mamelodi Sundowns and Amazulu. It’s sad that he is not here, but I know he’s looking down on me from wherever he is.” He clears his throat and quickly changes the subject to his 40-year-old mother. “She looks very good – you wouldn’t say she’s my mother,” he says with huge a grin.

Read the full article in DRUM of 20 January 2011

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