Next stop: Europe!

By admin
06 August 2010

He has barely set foot inside the building when a group of women office workers recognise him and rush towards him, chanting his name at the top of their voices: “Khumalo! Khumalo!”

“Since the World Cup so many people recognise me - people of all races. It’s humbling when they come up and congratulate you and shout your name in the streets,” Bongani Khumalo says.

The 23-year-old defender became an instant hero after scoring that memorable header in the game against France in the World Cup. Now it seems it’s only a matter of time before a contract materialises and he jets off to Europe to test his skill on the international circuit.

Bongani admits he’s flattered by the interest being shown in him. “I’d love to play overseas. That’s my goal now - to have a successful European career and help build on what Bafana Bafana has developed.”

Despite his skill and maturity on the pitch he really had to fight for his place in the team. In the run-up to the World Cup more experienced defenders such as Nasief Morris, Matthew Booth and Morgan Gould were tipped to take the central defensive role alongside captain Aaron Mokoena.

Bongani believes the team had a great tournament. “But in the dressing room after our last game the mood was bittersweet. We felt that we could have scored more goals – we really should have gone through.”

The only thing clouding Bongani’s happiness is the fact that his parents aren’t here to witness his success. His father died in 2000 and his mother in June last year.

“I would have liked my mother to be around to see me perform in my first World Cup. Every time I play I think of her.”

Which is exactly what he did the moment he scored his brilliant header against France: he turned from the goalmouth, pointed to the heavens and gave thanks to the woman who inspired him.

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