Legends Corner: Rhee shot to kill
TO SAY McDonald "Rhee" Skhosana's shooting was ferocious sounds rather feeble. His shooting was unimaginable.
Skhosana was in the same mould as Peter Patrick Lorimer, the former Leeds United player who was renowned for his vicious shooting. Lorimer, now a director on the board at Leeds, is regarded as having the hardest shot in football history.
Skhosana possessed those qualities and not only goalkeepers from opponents were subjected to his thunderous shots during matches: his teammate Patson "Kamuzu" Banda also endured Rhee's "bullets" at training.
We spoke to this unsung hero and found out why he is regarded among the best players to have donned the famous black and white jersey of the mighty Orlando Pirates.
You are regarded as one of the greatest goalscorers and hardest shooters this country has ever produced, do you agree?
People keep telling me that and I agree. I made scoring goals easier during my heyday. I could score anywhere from the pitch, unlike today's strikers who believe one can't score from outside the penalty box.
How did you feel when you ripped the net at Orlando Stadium with one of your ferocious shots?
(laughing) Maybe that net was worn out. To be honest I was not surprised because of the power that I possessed in my feet. I always shot to tear the net. You will be surprised if I tell you that was not the only net I tore. I rate all my goals as special.
Did you enjoy playing against Kaizer Chiefs?
My wish was to play them three times a day because I knew it would mean a lot of money in my pocket. We were paid between R200 and R250 when we played against crowd-pullers like Chiefs.
It was also financially rewarding to play against Moroka Swallows and Zulu Royals, who enjoyed good crowds. We got R150 for each game when we played against those teams. It was a bad weekend for us when we played against the likes of Golden Arrows and Hellenic. We got R20 against Hellenic and R10 against Arrows. But it was life and we survived with the money at that time.
How was the rivalry between Pirates and Chiefs back then?
The rivalry between the two teams will never die but it is no longer as fierce as it used to. During our days, it was rare to see supporters of the two teams sharing jokes, let alone greeting each other, before matches.
In fact, they remained sworn enemies even if we were not playing. It would also be unthinkable to see the two clubs sharing a sponsorship. But as players we were friends and we used to chill out together in Soweto. I would chill out with (Chiefs' goalkeeper) Joseph "Banks" Setlhodi and talk football and share jokes. I would tell him how easy it was for me to score against him and how I can't wait for our next game against Chiefs.
Talking about games, which match stands out for you?
It was a league match against Chiefs at Orlando Stadium. Chiefs scored three quick goals before half time and added another after the restart to lead 4-0. I managed to pull three back and we scored the fourth to force a 4-all draw. Setlhodi came to me after the match and admitted that we would have won the match if we had had five minutes more.
How did you join Pirates?
Late in 1971 after I was spotted by China Hlongwane while playing for Brave Lions, an amateur team from Diepkloof. Bra China, who was a family friend, heard that Swallows were keen to sign me and he acted swiftly to frustrate the move. He took me to Pirates.
Tell us about your first game at the Buccaneers.
I scored two goals against Pretoria Sundowns at Huntersfield Stadium in Katlehong.
How did you perform in your second season with Pirates?
I told myself that people will see who the real Rhee Skhosana was and indeed they saw what I was capable of. I can't remember the goals that I scored in 1973, but I helped Pirates win all the trophies, including the league title.
What did you do after retiring?
I worked with some amateur clubs in Soweto but it did not last long. In 2010 and last year I was part of a project between the Dutch and BidVest Wits to coach at schools and orphanage shelters in Hillbrow but it was discontinued late last year. Now I'm unemployed and survive only through God's grace. But I'm encouraged to that our Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula is reviving schools sport and I will gladly be part of it if I'm given the opportunity.