Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images
Over the past two weeks or so, Itumeleng Khune may have sullied his reputation as a top-level sportsman and an outright winner in several popularity contests by being allegedly found guilty of misconduct.
According to a recent report from FarPost the goalkeeper was suspended by Kaizer Chiefs after a Breathalyzer test detected he was under the influence of alcohol at training – this after public comments were made about teammate Brandon Petersen in Sunday World.
The general sentiment is that Khune, now 36 and in the final year of his Amakhosi contract, is likely to have buried any chance of a renewal to further what has been a glowing career at Naturena.
Even if the 2010 World Cup star intends to keep playing, which he has previously made clear despite the statement from Chiefs, retirement should be considered for the following reasons:
A decorated footballer
Khune joined the Soweto giants when he was only 13 and has gone on to win three Premier League titles and countless domestic cups as not only the No.1 goalie, but club captain too.
He is arguably one of the most decorated footballers in the team’s history, featuring in a Chiefs campaign profiling their iconic captains over the years. Khune has done it all in that shirt and he can still bow out gracefully.
Help find the next ‘Khune’
Khune has said he would like to emulate his heroes in Italian legend Gigi Buffon and Egypt’s Essam El Hadary, who ended their playing days – at the highest level – recently aged 45 and 47 respectively.
But criticism over his physical conditions and injuries as well as the allegations that have now emerged probably make that a distant dream.
While he still has the respect of future goalkeepers who’ve looked up to him for so many years, there’s no better time than now to walk away and begin a path to helping Chiefs and Bafana Bafana find his long-term successor.
Who can afford him?
At the peak of his career, Khune was believed to be the highest-paid player at Chiefs with a salary well over R6-million per annum that included endorsements by top-tier brands, among them Nike, Kiwi, KFC, Vaseline and DanUp.
But as his stock diminished and he lost his place at Chiefs and Bafana, naturally the deals fell away. However, the veteran goalie could still be considered a high-earner by most teams outside the traditional top three in SA football.
Can you imagine the great Itumeleng Khune playing for a club other than the mighty Amakhosi and fighting relegation?
I can’t …