'I came here with nothing': Highlands goalie Marlon Heug reflects on how his life has changed

Highlands Park goalkeeper Marlon Heugh.
Highlands Park goalkeeper Marlon Heugh.
Image: Anesh Debiky / Gallo Images

Highlands Park goalkeeper Marlon Heugh is itching to get back into action after months of inactivity on the pitch due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Heugh's eagerness to return to action can be forgiven as the pandemic halted a respectable run of time on the pitch for the second season in row. He had stepped up a gear this season to play 15 of the Lions of the North’s 24 league games‚ keeping five clean sheets and conceding 19.

But things were not always this bright for the Cape Town-born Heugh‚ who turns 30 next Saturday‚ as he had to play second fiddle to a few rivals at Highlands‚ most notably the experienced Tapuwa Kapini‚ before he started to make some impact last season.

“Obviously with Kapini’s immense experience I had to wait my turn‚” said Heugh‚ who played in five of Highlands' last six league matches before the break in March.

“I think Kapini did well because he saved the team from relegation when we got the team promoted to the PSL. As for myself‚ I was always waiting for the opportunity and when it arrived I tried to hold onto it for as long as possible.”

The eighth-placed Highlands stand a chance to finish in the top eight again and Heugh conceded that rivals Kapini and Thela Ngobeni have kept him on his toes.

“I keep learning from the guys that I’m competing with‚" he said.

"I learn a lot even from Thela‚ who joined us recently‚ and there are a lot of aspect of the game that I’ve learned from him. I’m a goalkeeper and I like to learn from other people‚ instead of thinking that I know it all.”

Football was suspended on March 16 and the inactivity afforded several injured players at Highlands time to heal.

Heugh said they are better-placed to even attempt to improve on the sixth-place finish they achieved in the league last season.

“That’s a good objective to have‚” said Heugh.

“You don’t want to be fighting relegation when you’ve been doing OK like us in the league before the break. But I think we can do better and we actually want to strive for a better place this season.

“We’re not bad at all at the moment‚ but I feel we can improve our decision-making and our never-say-die attitude has helped us in many games.

“This season we had so many injuries‚ especially after going all the way to final of the MTN 8. After that final our back four changed possibly every second week or every first week. I never really forged a bond with my back four because every week someone was injured.

“It was something different for us but for me now‚ most of them are back and I’m happy. That should give us a lot of stability when we resume the season.”

Heugh turned his attention his big day next Saturday and said even though he will not able to have a big party outside due to Covid-19‚ he will be happy to spend his birthday with his wife and son.

“Every year of my birthday I never really celebrated because every time we’ve been playing‚” he said.

“It’s just a milestone and one has to thank the Lord for bringing me this far in my career and life itself. I came here with nothing and I’m just happy to have what I have now with my family.

“So for me family is everything and I will celebrate it with my wife and my son. I will just spend it as quality time with my family and I think that the upside of Covid19.

“We get to spend a lot of time with our families and we get to know each other on different aspects."