The name Doctor Khumalo is loved and well respected in the South African football fraternity, so a sit-down with the legendary ‘16V’ and Brian Mathe was sure to deliver a captivating conversation.
The discussion was part of Nedbank Reality Football, a series of tell-all conversations delving into the lives, defining moments and money choices of some of South Africa’s greatest footballers.
Doctor kicked off with the topic of him almost joining Orlando Pirates: ‘They came to a tournament during the December holidays, and we were just visiting and the Pirates officials were there. They had just recruited [me], and Bobby [Motaung] went straight to his dad and said ‘No, they want to steal the boy [me]’ and I was taken to the Kaizer Chiefs office and then I signed a contract. By the time Pirates came, it was too late. My dad signed for me as I was still a minor.’
Speaking on what it meant to put on the retired and iconic jersey number 15 for Kaizer Chiefs, he said ‘coming from the development side, they [the club] indicated in terms of the badge, what it means to play for the club and what it means to have 80 000 [fans] in the stands, Kaizer Chiefs was like a university.’
Asked about the class that came before him and the responsibility to carry on the legacy of the legends he said, ‘the baton was not thrown to us, it was handed over. We are talking about an era that had great players, that had individuals that had stature, guys that made names for themselves. Something that was very appealing to us was the club that we played for and the brand and what it meant. Whenever you go in the country ,it looked like you were [the team] playing at home. It was pressure, the minute you mess up they won’t forget.’
Khumalo went on to explain that when he started playing, it was not for money, emphasising that the money and sponsorships we see today weren’t around yet. ‘My first salary was R8 000, I was still in high school. I thought my life was going to change. I was waiting for the first cheque; I woke up and was told we are going somewhere. We went to a bank in Dube and my father had to sign for me, although it was my [bank] account. Overall, out of a 100, it was not all about money; 99% was passion, we really wanted to be there.’
On the advice he received from Kaizer Motaung, Chairman of Chiefs, which Doctor later shared with young players while coaching, he said, ‘My first car was not from my first salary – it came years after I started playing. I didn’t want to be greedy with the advice I was given, we received the information, captured it and it is our turn to share it with the upcoming youth.’
He continued, saying ,’This game is not about you deciding that you will play 20 years. You can be disciplined, but if the unexpected happens you could get a [serious] injury and the next thing you only have the car, which will lose value. Investing is the greatest way of living because [it means] you are wise and you will not be in need because life gives you peer pressure.’
Catch Doctor Khumalo’s tell-all interview at moneyedge.co.za and don’t miss out on previous and upcoming episodes with the greatest of local football, including Jerry Sikhosana, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Teko Modise and others.