HE IS one of the most celebrated soccer stars in Africa, but Kaizer Chiefs goalie Itumeleng Khune says his successes did not come easy. Itumeleng says he never thought in his wildest dreams that he would one day be a celebrated soccer star. Born and bred in Ventersdorp, North West, the number one Mzansi goalkeeper says he still wonders when he will wake up from his dream because he still can’t believe that his childhood dream became a reality.
His is a story of courage and vision. He travelled long hours to get to Joburg with only one vision – to play for Kaizer Chiefs. “I grew up supporting Kaizer Chiefs and it has been the only team that I have ever played for,” says Itumeleng, adding that he cannot think of anything else that he could do besides soccer. “Growing up in Ventersdorp where opportunities were limited, I never thought I would get out of that bad situation. If I was not playing soccer I would have probably become a gangster or a hobo. At some point at home we had to take a risk where we went for one month without groceries because my dad had to buy me soccer boots,” he says. “That paid off because here I am playing for one of the biggest soccer teams in Africa and I am also playing for the national team.” Itumeleng says he always performs at his best to make his parents proud because they have been very supportive of him. “My parents are my number one supporters. They will drive to anywhere just to rally behind me,” says the second-born of seven children. Not only is he supported and loved by his family, but people around the country are also behind him.
What most people do not know about the star goalie is that when he tried out to play for Kaizer Chiefs, he played the striker position. “I wanted to be a striker but that didn’t work out, but it’s good to be multitalented,” he giggles. He says nothing makes him happier than giving back to the community. “I am involved in soccer projects where I go out to schools to teach young boys soccer skills. I am passing my skills to the aspiring goalkeepers,” says the 2007/8 Absa Premiership’s Players’ Player of the year award-winner.
MORE DOORS OPEN
Itumeleng has made a name for himself in the world of sports and this has opened many great opportunities for him. He was recently announced as the brand ambassador for a new Danone product called DANUP. Itumeleng says he is over the moon about being associated with the brand. “I am very grateful for the opportunity that Danone has given me. The very first time when they approached me I was so emotional and I couldn’t say no to the opportunity,” says the Bafana Bafana captain. “I never saw myself endorsing any of their products. I never thought I would be associated with this brand and they do say dreams come true and this is a dream come true.”