Soccer Player for Kaiser Chiefs and South African National Team
Itumeleng Khune is a South African soccer player who plays as a goalkeeper for the Kaizer Chiefs in the Premier Soccer League and the South African national team.
Being one of the star players of local football, Khune is one of the biggest goalkeeping talents South African football has produced in recent times.
The young Bafana Bafana number one is a fantastic shot-stopper and is excellent at starting quick attacks with his distribution.
His younger brother Lucky Khune plays as a striker for Kaizer Chiefs.
Khune hails from Tshing near Ventersdorp in the North West. He grew up in a family of six in which his father, a mineworker in one of Ventersdorp’s mines, was the sole breadwinner.
Unlike many South African players who cite kicking a soccer ball on their hometown's dusty streets as their starting point, Khune was in love with cricket idolising Nicky Boje. He eventually decided to pursue a career in football to earn a living for him and his family.
Khune started out as a defender when he arrived for trials at Chiefs in 1999, but assumed the gloves by chance after he experienced chest problems during a junior game and found himself being reduced to a ball boy. Diving for balls that had missed the target he caught the attention of youth coach Terror Sephoa who converted him to a goalkeeper.
In 2004 he was promoted to the first team.
After three years of waiting to get any game time, Itumeleng finally got his opportunity in the early stages of the 2007-08 season after the departure of number one goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez to German club Arminia Bielefeld. With the experienced Emile Baron often plagued by injuries, Khune was made number one by then Chiefs coach Muhsin Ertugral. He made his PSL debut against Jomo Cosmos on August 25, 2007.
His first season in the top-flight was highly successful as several match-winning displays for his side earned him a host of individual awards with Chiefs having the best defensive record in the league conceding only 19 goals in 30 games.
In his second season he often struggled to regain the form and consistency of the previous season even though Chiefs managed to finish third on the log and win the MTN 8.
During the 2009-10 a finger injury sidelined Khune for three months giving understudy Arthur Bartman a chance to play regularly in his absence.
He was part of Bafana Bafana's 2008 African Nations Cup squad but was not fielded until he made his international debut against Zimbabwe on March 11, 2008. He had since become the preferred choice in goal by former South Africa coach Joel Santana.
Khune was the first-choice goalkeeper in South Africa's squad at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup where he saved a penalty against Spanish star David Villa in the group stages.