Kaizer Chiefs legend Doctor Khumalo played a pivotal role in helping his teammates overcome the darkest days that followed a Soweto Derby 19 years ago.
On Saturday, 43 fans who died during a stampede at Ellis Park stadium on 11 April 2001 was commemorated by the South African football fraternity.
After detailing the events of that day, Siyabonga Nomvethe has also revealed how Khumalo – Amakhosi's captain at the time – served as a pillar of strength in the aftermath of the biggest tragedy in local football history.
“Days that followed were not life as usual. Going back to training was tough,” Nomvethe told Chiefs’ website.
“But before that, I remember we joined the football fraternity to respect and give our support to the bereaved families.
“We visited and paid homage to the bereaved homes. I was still young, scared and horrified. As youngsters, we relied on senior players like Doctor Khumalo for consolation.
“But it took a while for us to come to terms with what happened. I can say that this is one date that I will never forget.
“I thought it was God’s will that something like that happened and that we must accept it at the same time never forget that people lost their lives for the love of football in our country.
“As we celebrate 50th Anniversary of Kaizer Chiefs, we must not forget that people paid dearly with their lives for the love of the game and this Club.
“This unfortunate disaster was a demonstration of how much South Africans support their football and more specifically the Soweto Derby. It showed how much people support and love the Soweto Derby.
“It is one hard lesson. This disaster has ensured that the security be intensified at the games. I wish the supporters will look back at this disaster and cooperate with these safety measures.”