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Goal Senior Writer Ernest Makhaya caught up with Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana captain Itumeleng Khune after being named the Goal South Africa Player of the Year 2013

By Ernest Makhaya

Goal: Itu congratulations on your second award from Goal South Africa. 

Khune: First of all, I would like to thank Goal for honouring the hard work of the footballers in the country and around the world. Secondly, I just want to thank the fans for the support that they have given me and for their votes for me to be crowned Goal South Africa Player of the Year 2013. Thirdly, I want to thank all the guys that were vying for the same award. I think they made me a better player. They pushed me really hard and they made me perform week in and week out. It could have gone either way.

Goal: How would you describe the feeling of having to compete with two European-based players, Steven Pienaar & Tokelo Rantie for this award?

Khune: It’s been a great journey for me. It hasn’t been easy and that’s why I also thanked them having made the country proud out there in Europe. Tshabalala was also vying for it. He has done well for both club and country. Senzo has done well for club and country and for me to walk away with this award, I am very grateful and this is the beginning of many good things to come. I will keep working hard to make sure that I defend it again next year.

Goal: Looking back at 2013, what would be your highs and lows?

Khune: To be honest I only have highs, because I haven’t experienced any injury this year. I mean it’s been a great year for me. I have played almost all the games for Chiefs and Bafana Bafana without suffering any injuries. So, I don’t have any lows this year.

Goal: Would you describe 2013 as the best year of your career since turning professional with all the awards that you have won this year?

Khune: Definitely! I think this was my year. Everything has been going well for me. I remember that I won several awards during the 2007/08 season, but it doesn’t come closer to this and I am willing to continue doing well.

Goal: If you were to pick one or two games that you feel you always remember in 2013 and maybe even after five or six years, which one would it be?

Khune: It’s difficult to single out now, because I think I have played well and gave my best in all the games these year; better than I thought I would. But If I really have to choose then I’d pick the Spain game (Bafana beat Spain 1-0) at the FNB Stadium as well as the Morocco game during the Afcon 2013.

Goal: Perhaps the next question should be what has been motivating you to do so well?

Khune: Coaches, management, fans, and the nation expect a lot from me, because I am captaining both Chiefs and Bafana. So, there are a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders. Club and country come before my happiness. I think I must also give credit to two goalkeepers Brilliant (Khuzwayo) and Reyaad (Pieterse). They have been pushing me hard. So, I get reminded every day that one of them will soon take my jersey if I relax. I cannot afford to relax. Even for the national team Senzo is doing well, there’s Ronwen Williams, and Darren Keet is doing well. So, I will work hard and I will remain humble.

Goal: Itu thanks very much for you time, and good luck with your career going forward.

Khune: Thank you very much, and also thanks once again to Goal, my coaches – past and present – the fans and everyone who has been behind my success.