'Football will kill you,' says Masuluke channeling his inner Thobejane
“Football will kill you‚” said Oscarine Masuluke on his arrival at OR Tambo Airport‚ half-jokingly quoting one of Baroka FC coach Kgoloko Thobejane’s famous lines in response to not winning Fifa’s Puskas Award on Monday.
Baroka chairman Khurishi Mphahlele said that Masuluke‚ who missed out to Olivier Giroud’s goal for Arsenal for Fifa’s best goal of the year‚ “took Baroka and South Africa to the world”.
Masuluke seemed a little taken aback at having rubbed shoulders with the world’s football superstars and his global fame.
“As someone who scored a beautiful goal‚ it’s simple for people to recognise you when you get there‚ and they treat you well‚” he said of his starry night at Fifa’s The Best Awards in London.
“On Monday I was walking on the streets and I met a white guy who asked if I’m Oscarine‚ and he was still on Instagram on his phone watching me [the video of Masuluke’s goal].
“I want to thank everyone who made sure [through] voting that I put my name‚ surname and Baroka FC on the map.”
Masuluke was seated next to the 2017 Fifa goalkeeper of the year‚ and arguably one of the greatest ever‚ Juventus and Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon‚ at the awards.
“He said‚ ‘you scored a beautiful goal and even me‚ I saw that goal and I was expecting that you would win’‚” Masuluke said‚ before adding with a grin: “But it’s football‚ and football can kill you.”
The whirlwind for Masuluke has not abated just yet. A music festival will be held in his honour on Saturday in home town Giyani.
He also had a send-off dinner before leaving for London.
Asked how the big‚ quiet keeper is responding to the attention‚ Masuluke replied: “I’m coping. Many people want to take a picture with me‚ so I can’t push them away. I have to accept them.
“These people here [at the airport] came because of me‚ because they love me.
"And I love you guys‚” he said to applause from the 30-odd fans from various teams who had given the keeper a noisy welcome.
Masuluke scored with a bicycle kick from the edge of the area in the dying seconds to earn Baroka a 1-1 draw against Orlando Pirates at Peter Mokaba in December.
There was a sense that the public voting system for the Puskas Award favoured Giroud for his “scorpion kick” against Crystal Palace in January‚ given that the Frenchman is a global star.
Baroka CEO Morgan Mammila emphasised this point.
“I just want to try to summarise it. I received a lot of calls‚ SMSes and Whatsapp messages. Thank you South Africans‚” Mammila said.
“We did not lose because of votes or anything. To be honest London [where Giroud is based at Arsenal] is well organised – far better than South Africa.
“Wifi is free. Here in South Africa‚ where Masuluke comes from‚ there’s no wifi.
“So in this sense I’m saying that South Africa has achieved. To us we have won this.
“Not taking anything away from Giroud – his was a great goal. But Masuluke will never ever happen again. Where a goalkeeper can go forward and score with a bicycle kick – that has never happened.
“So I just want to thank the big man for making us proud.
"I don’t know what to say about where he has set the brand Baroka.”