Itumeleng Khune credits backyard work and Essam El-Hadary for Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana displays
Posted: 29 September 2017 Time: 07:45
Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana’s undisputed number one goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune says inspiration from Essam El-Hadary and the extra work he does in his backyard fuels his consistent form.
Since breaking into the PSL a decade ago when he played his first game against Jomo Cosmos – Khune has stood out head and shoulders above the rest of the goalkeepers in domestic football.
He hasn’t fallen into that path of comfort despite being guaranteed of his place both at Chiefs and the national team standing as the man that is relied on regularly.
“They say goalkeepers mature like wine and so I think the older we get the more we stay hungry,” states the 30-year-old.
Khune then singles out age-defying Egyptian goalkeeper El-Hadary as a source of motivation to keep his game at the top.
El-Hadary turns 45 in January but is still playing professional football for Saudi topflight club Al-Taawoun and remains the first choice keeper for The Pharaohs 21 years since he made his national team debut.
“I am inspired by a lot of goalkeepers from around the world, El-Hadary is one. I got an opportunity to speak to him when we played Egypt [2016 Nelson Mandela Challenge] at Orlando and I asked him how he stays motivated and how he stays fit. He gave me a bit of tips in that lifestyle is very important and you don’t have to wait to come to work and work with the coaches and fitness trainer. You have to do a little bit extra in your own space and hence I have been motivated to always work in my backyard extra and it improves my game,” says Khune.
Khune is the most experienced Bafana keeper with 83 international appearances, while he is the third most capped player behind Siphiwe Tshabalala (88) and Aaron Mokoena (108).
He has also represented the country at Under-17, U-20 and U-23 level and has won every trophy offered on the domestic scene in addition to many personal awards.