Khumalo has a story to tell of the goal he scored in Bafana's 2010 World Cup win against France
Bongani Khumalo has a story to tell of his goal he scored in Bafana Bafana's 2-1 2010 Fifa World Cup win against France in Bloemfontein 10 years ago‚ and the peculiarity of playing in the global showpiece in your own backyard.
Khumalo‚ then 23 and just six years out of school at Pretoria's Clapham High School‚ without knowing it celebrated at a corner where a school friend was metres in front of him in the stands.
More strangely‚ that friend had bizarrely written an uncanny farewell prediction message to the player when the two were in matric.
A decade ago Khumalo headed Bafana ahead in the 20th minute at Free State Stadium‚ then Katlego Mphela made it 2-0 in the 37th.
Chasing an unlikely 4-0 result to progress from Group A‚ Mphela almost brought the South Africans within touching distance hitting the post‚ then Florent Malouda struck in the 70th to bring the host nation's dream to an end in Bloemfontein.
"One of my best friends from high school‚ Mitchell Gomes‚ was going to all the games‚" Khumalo recalls.
"I called Mitchell ahead of the France game and asked if he wanted tickets. He said‚ 'I doubt I'm going to make it‚ I've got too much going on'. He said‚ 'Give the ticket away and if I do make it I'll just go to a fan park'.
"We played the game. And afterwards this mate Mitchell calls me and says‚ 'Bro‚ you scored - you won. Wow!'‚ and‚ 'Didn't you see me?'
"This guy and his wife had driven overnight‚ found two tickets to buy‚ and they had literally sat at the corner where I went to celebrate the goal. And he was right in front of me.
"I was like‚ 'How am I going to see you when there's a sea of yellow in front of me?'. He said‚ 'You were looking right at me'.
"I thought‚ 'That's crazy' - someone I'd known since about 13‚ and he sat at the corner where I went to celebrate probably the biggest goal of my career.
"That's the real special thing about a World Cup in your country - you play in front of your family and friends.
"And that's not the really crazy thing. In matric‚ when everyone signs your shirt on the last day‚ he's the guy who wrote‚ 'Hey bro‚ it's been real. Good luck for 2010‚ I'll see you there'.
"I still have the shirt until today. Wild hey?" Khumalo laughed.
Bafana had drawn 1-1 with Mexico in their opener‚ and lost 3-0 against Uruguay in their second game.
Khumalo (33)‚ then a SuperSport United player‚ signed for Tottenham Hotspur after the World Cup‚ and after an injury-plagued career in Europe is currently winding down his career back at Matsantsa a Pitoli.