The ex-Borussia Dortmund man retired in 2015 after leaving Maritzburg United, bringing down the curtain on a career that saw him ply his trade in four different countries and play in numerous big competitions.
Having sat down to pen his life story, Soccer Laduma have an excerpt of the former midfielder’s book to share, an excerpt that involves him being given the wrong sort of tablets by Bafana’s medical team.
1st Game vs France
In our opening game we were up against the hosts, France at the Stade Veledrome Stadium in Marseille. We lost 3-0 in what was a tough opening game against a crack French side with superstars: Zidane, Pires, Henry, Vieira, Petit, Desailly.
I was not selected in the starting-18, which I knew from the night before, when the team was announced – my time would come. But what an experience it was nevertheless, for that first game as we entered the stadium.
As part of the four non-playing players we were escorted to VIP seats. Security was tight in the stadium and we also had our own personal security team of four sent from South Africa. During that game I felt sorry for my teammate Pierre Issa as he had scored two own goals. The first was when Henry went down the line and crossed the ball back and Issa slid the ball into his own net. The 2nd own goal Pierre headed the ball into his own goal. France did manage to score without our help, when Henry scored his first World Cup goal. Poor Pierre was criticised and having French roots did not help him, as the conspiracy theorists were having a field day. Well, if you really look at it carefully, all Frances goals that day were scored by Frenchmen (Jokes aside, Issa was devastated. We tried to build him up and explain that it was all part of the game).
After that game, outside the players change-rooms I had a chance to meet Henry and Zidane, who were players that I had admired. To meet them personally was a special moment for me. In the run up to our 2nd game which was going to be against Denmark, I twisted my ankle.
Before we played them, two of our players were sent home due to breaking curfew. They had arrived back at the hotel around 4am, drunk as well. The security reported this to our coach, who called a team meeting. Coach Philppe, being a tough disciplinarian was not happy. He also warned the rest of us that if we stepped out of line, he would not hesitate to do the same. We were here to play for our country and do our nation proud.
2nd Game vs Denmark
Our game against Denmark was played at the Stade de Toulouse. We drew 1-1. We were down 1-0 and I came off the bench for the last 20-minutes. I played a ‘one-two’ with Quinton Fortune and gave him back the ball about 10-metres outside the 18-yard-box. He hit it from there so sweetly that it went sailing straight into the goals to bring us level.
Something strange happened to me during that game. Due to my injured ankle, I had asked the team doctor for a painkiller. After taking it I felt quite sleepy and began yawning as I sat on the bench. When I got back to the hotel, I contacted my doctor in Germany and gave him the details of the tablet I was given. He confirmed that it was actually a sleeping pill and not a painkiller.