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Brilliant Khuzwayo: The talent South Africa never really got to see

20:48 GMT+3 31/07/2019
Brilliant Khuzwayo
Khuzwayo had a chance to be South Africa's No.1 but he was never given enough chance to prove his worth at the highest level

On Wednesday afternoon, Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo announced his retirement from professional football with immediate effect. 

This was after struggling all year long with an ankle injury, which he suffered soon after joining the Buccaneers from arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs in July 2018. 

While Khuzwayo may be proud of what he has achieved during his playing career, he would certainly be disappointed with the circumstances which brought about an end to his career.

Firstly, Khuzwayo was withdrawn from the Pirates starting XI for the CBL Cup despite declaring himself fit for the encounter a day earlier. 

A few days later, he was not included in Bucs' squad for the new season, let alone be allocated a shirt number. 

This raised eyebrows as Pirates fans were dying to see him in action for the new season, hoping he had recovered. 

Khuzwayo quits the South African professional football having been limited to just 37 appearances for Chiefs, three for AmaZulu and none for the Sea Robbers. 

Nonetheless, the 29-year-old should be proud of what he managed to achieve during his playing career which lasted for almost a decade; better yet as a back--up to other goalkeepers.  

It's painful to watch a player as young as Khuzwayo being forced to retire due to injury. 

Of course, there are worst-case scenarios such as that of Wiseman Meyiwa, whom, after being involved in an accident, never had an opportunity to return to action as he was left paralysed at the age of 18. 

Khuzwayo's case is different, but one can only feel for him after returning to Pirates, where his career kicked off before making his debut for Usuthu in 2010. 

After moving to Chiefs, Khuzwayo's career was expected to blossom, but he spent six years playing second fiddle to Itumeleng Khune, who has been Amakhosi's No.1 since 2007 and the country's No.1 since 2008.

Khuzwayo had great ambitions, and one of them was to challenge Khune for the No.1 spot at Bafana, but unfortunately, he will never get a chance to achieve that goal.

When Chiefs won the 2014 MTN8 in Durban, it was Khuzwayo who proved just why he deserved to be a regular in the top-flight. 

The sad truth is that South Africa never really got to see Khuzwayo reach his full potential at any of the four professional clubs he played for.

His fans can remember a few games where he really shone, including that MTN8 final against Pirates at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

It is therefore fair to conclude that this injury deprived South Africa the chance to really see who Khuzwayo really was, and what he could have offered the nation. 

Despite his lack of game-time, Khuzwayo made his presence felt at AmaZulu, Thanda Royal Zulu and Chiefs, and it is unfortunate that he couldn't do it at his prime soon after joining the Buccaneers.  

Mind you, he came through the Pirates youth structures as a teenager, and this move was regarded as a homecoming for the Umlazi-born star.   

Yes, Khuzwayo was a star because, despite the challenges he faced throughout his nine-year football career, he still soldiered on and made use of every opportunity he was given in the elite league. 

He retires having added his name in a long list of players who moved between Pirates and Chiefs. In fact, as things stand, he is the last player to have moved between the two Soweto arch-rivals. 

No one gave Khuzwayo a chance when coach Shakes Mashaba included him in the Bafana Bafana squad to participate at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations tournament   

More so, the majority never expected him to feature for South Africa because he was seen as a back-up at Chiefs; something he didn't approve of. Hence he left because he felt his talent wasn't appreciated there.

He may be criticised for leaving Chiefs for Pirates, but Khuzwayo had to do what was best for him at the time, and he certainly doesn't regret his decision because injuries are part of the game, and he is just unfortunate that his career had to come to an end in this manner. 

South Africa has been deprived of an opportunity for someone who could have been a long-term replacement for Khune. 

Take nothing away from the rest of other goalkeepers in South Africa,  but Khuzwayo was among the best we could have had for many years to come, and we can only wish him well as he brings to an end a glittering career which saw him win two league titles, one MTN8 and one Nedbank Cup.