DStv Premiership

Khune hopes to emulate Buffon’s longevity

“Gianluigi Buffon is how old now? [42], so I’ll retire after him. I still have maybe 10 more years.” These are the words uttered by veteran goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, who is eager to replicate Juventus and Italy legend’s longevity between the sticks.

For many years, Khune made the Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana number one jersey his own, but his influence has dwindled in recent seasons due to a series of injuries.  

Khune is not yet prepared to throw in the towel despite being overlooked at Chiefs as he firmly believes that he “still has a lot to offer”.

The 34-year-old has only made a single appearance in the 2021/22 season, with Stuart Baxter preferring Daniel Akpeyi in goal. But Khune remains the fans’ favourite.

The supporters voted for him to be part of the DStv Premiership Compact semifinal last week in Durban, where he put in a good performance in the Warriors’ 2-1 victory against Amabutho.

Khune draws inspiration from Buffon and says his support structure keeps him going. I’ll retire when I’m older than Buffon,” he said. “To be quite honest, I’m making a good investment in myself, even investing in the gym at home. 

“I do a lot of extra at my workplace, and even when I get home, I’m motivated to do extra to be in good shape because obviously, my body is my investment. When I invest in my body, it can take me to 40+, so that’s what I’m praying for. It’s in my hands. I have to work hard to achieve that,” added Khune.

The experienced goal-minder admitted that it’s been hard to adjust to the new normal of not playing but stated that he is grateful for the excellent support structure around him.

“There are people from the club that still call me and encourage me not to throw in the towel. I’ve got my family, wife and daughters that keep putting smiles on my face at all times. I know that I am not doing it for myself anymore but for the people that still believe in the talent and that I still have a lot to offer in this beautiful game,” said Khune.

Khune’s tank might not be full, the Chiefs goalie believes he has enough in it to compete for the No.1 jersey at club level and Bafana.

He has made over 320 appearances for the Soweto giants with 149 clean sheets to his name.

“There is that part [where I wanted to show I can still do it in the Compact Cup]. When I realised how many goalkeepers that we have from these clubs, with myself and Bruce (Bvuma) having been selected before, that gave me hope,” explained Khune.

“I needed to go out there, impress and do what I do best, but I am not here to prove a point to anyone that I still got it. I just want to enjoy myself and give the fans that still believe in me, and voted for me, something to smile about as well.”

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