Khune should know it's right time to leave the stage

Continuing playing would do more harm to legendary keeper

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Itumeleng Khune honoured by Kaizer chiefs after their DStv/PSL match against Polokwane City at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
Itumeleng Khune honoured by Kaizer chiefs after their DStv/PSL match against Polokwane City at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.

Given his legendary status, chances are Itumeleng Khune won't struggle to win a contract elsewhere to pursue his rather injudicious ambition of stretching his playing days beyond this season after Kaizer Chiefs confirmed as early as last June that he won't continue as a player in Naturena.

However, retiring at Chiefs when his contract lapses at the end of the current season would do more good than harm on his rich legacy. First and foremost, Khune has achieved almost everything that was realistically there for him to achieve, hence persisting with playing would serve no new purpose for him but would instead taint his reputation as one of the best shot-stoppers the country has ever produced.

The high rate at which Khune has been conceding goals whenever he was given a chance in recent seasons puts him at risk of being remembered as an average keeper, especially by the new generation, who answers to the sobriquet "ma2k". Yes, history has no blank pages but the legacy of a legend of Khune's calibre shouldn't be polarising.

If Khune indeed continues playing, as he asserted that "my legs can still carry me for the next couple of years'' after Chiefs honoured him for his 25-year service at the club in Saturday's goalless draw against Polokwane City at FNB Stadium, his already complicated relationship with Amakhosi hierarchy would also likely to be further jeopardised.

Khune's relationship with the club was said to have taken a beating when he was suspended for disciplinary reasons last December. It's believed the club has already prepared Khune a non-playing role from the 2024/25 season onwards, and that would not only give him a chance to remain in the game but it's also a perfect opportunity for him to reinstate himself into the club management's good books. 

Should he decide against taking that, there are certainly no guarantees that the offer will stand for ever. Khune should've as well learnt a lesson from Orlando Pirates legend Happy Jele, who turned down an ambassadorial role at the club when his 18-year stay at the club ended in June 2022 and went on to join Royal AM, lasting a measly five months there.

Jele confirmed last week that he's officially retired, but there's been no word from Pirates as to whether their offer still stands. He would have done well to walk away from Pirates with his legendary status, rather than being remembered as a Royal AM flop.

With just six clean sheets from 31 league games he's played in the past five seasons, conceding a whopping 35 goals in the process, reality is Khune, who turns 37 next month, is no longer the same. For any club, signing Khune would be more of a brand-boosting strategy rather than a footballing decision.

As renowned Kenyan activist Patrick Lumumba once said: "Time limits are good things. No matter how good a dancer you are, you must leave the stage."

Khune must be careful he doesn't overstay his welcome in the game as a player.

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