In the wake of the forced retirement of Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo this week due to injury, Daniel Mothowagae looks at other careers that were similarly cut short
Roger De Sá can relate to the sort of injuries that goalkeepers have to endure in their careers.
The yesteryear goalminder is one of the football fans who reacted with shock to this week’s heart-wrenching announcement by Orlando Pirates goalie Brilliant Khuzwayo that his career was over due to a lingering ankle injury.
“I had similar injuries – legs, ankles, fingers, shoulders – and I was pretty conscious of the rehabilitation precess, which is probably more important than the actual operation,” De Sá told City Press.
“But I was quite surprised to hear about Brilliant’s setback, especially as it is an ankle injury. I thought it would be something more related with a goalkeeper. I think maybe it was something that wasn’t dealt with early on in his career that obviously got worse. That’s very sad. I hope the football fraternity will look after him; find him a place in this great industry – I’m sure he’s got something to add.”
In fact, Pirates chairperson Irvin Khoza said this week that the 29-year-old arrived with the injury when he joined from Kaizer Chiefs last season, but he thought it was treatable.
Khuzwayo now has to come to terms with the fact that he will not play in the Absa Premier League again after his ankle failed to heal properly, despite attempts to fix it over the past 18 months with Pirates.
The club did not release the full diagnosis, although it said the extent of the injury was corroborated by independent medical reports.
“After one-and-half years trying to treat it, the doctors said, on medical incapacity, he can’t continue,” said Khoza.
“It’s just a pity. Emotionally, we have tried to get psychologists to assist him in accepting the outcome because it’s difficult. We engaged the agent and said that he must still assist in that respect to get psychological support to understand the reality.”
De Sá said: “Medicine is so advanced these days and I think most of these injuries can be overcome. It depends on who cut you open at the beginning. We seem to forget that the rehabilitation process is vital, but you’ve got to have the right temperament to bounce back.
“You have to take your time and go to all the [rehabilitation] sessions ... eat well and live well, because all that contributes to your recovery. And, of course, Brilliant is not the first one [to retire prematurely], but let’s hope he’ll bounce back.”
It’s not uncommon for players’ careers to end because of injuries. Wiseman Meyiwa, Siyabonga Sangweni and former Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Emile Baron all had their careers cut short due to injury.
Khuzwayo’s setback comes just six months after the Pietermaritzburg-born Meyiwa had his career ended after an accident left him confined to a wheelchair.
In January, Chiefs confirmed that Meyiwa had been forced to call time on his football career two months after the 19-year-old was involved in near-fatal car accident.
A spinal cord injury ended Wiseman Meyiwa’s career prematurely Picture: Muzi Ntombela / BackpagePix
Meyiwa, who was promoted to the senior squad at the start of the 2017/18 season from the club’s youth academy, sustained a spinal cord injury that left him paralysed.
A lot was expected of the budding footballer after he played for South Africa in the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups in the past four years.
Former Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana defender Sangweni also called time on his career on medical advice due to recurring injuries.
He announced his retirement in April 2016 after a knee injury he suffered in November 2015 failed to heal.
The centre back, who earned 29 caps for Bafana Bafana, was 34.
A broken leg sent Baron into premature retirement six years ago while he was playing for Bidvest Wits.
The Cape Town-born goalminder’s career was blighted by injuries, but he had always bounced back, despite undergoing nine operations in 14 years.
A shoulder injury, which later required surgery, cost Baron a place in the Bafana squad for the 2010 World Cup.
As if that were not bad enough, he broke his leg in two places while turning out for Wits against Pirates in 2013, and he was lost to the game aged 34, which is considered a ripe age for goalkeepers.