Former Bafana Bafana defender Bongani Khumalo says he is honoured to have participated at the 2010 Fifa World Cup tournament and explains how he ensured hard work helped him.
The SuperSport United centre-back scored for the 1996 African champions in their 2-1 win over France in the final Group A match in Bloemfontein.
In addition, Khumalo was a 17-year-old when South Africa was announced as the host nation back in 2004 and the former Tottenham Hotspur defender says he told himself he couldn't miss the opportunity of representing his country on home soil.
“When it was announced that the World Cup was going to be played in South Africa, I was in matric, playing at Arcadia Shepherds. So, for me, the goal was to be part of it. That was something that was realistic, considering it was going to be on home soil,” Khumalo said as quoted by IOL.
“The challenge was there even for professional players at the time. Personally, all I did was to take the challenge, work as hard as I could, and prepare myself so that I am ready if the opportunity actually does arrive.
“There were so many camps before the World Cup, and a lot of players gunning for a starting position.
"Obviously, with the captain being a centre-back, it was clear that there was space for only one more. So, I didn’t focus on anyone else but myself in terms of the work.”
After representing the Southern Africans, Khumalo went on to join the Lily Whites in the English Premier League when he joined them in December 2010.
“The World Cup can be a springboard for anything. That’s where the legends are made. You are literally showcasing your talent in front of the world,” he added.
“But going into it, you don’t think about such but representing your country, yourself and family - hoping to do the best that you can.”
Although he didn’t command a regular spot at White Hart Lane, he enjoyed loan stints with the English Championship and with Greek Super Ligue 1 side, PAOK Thessaloniki.