Football history often associates legends with jersey number 10. But Kaizer Motaung is one of a few heroes of the game who hasn’t turned out with the iconic two digits on his back.
The Kaizer Chiefs founder might have surprised some with “Motaung 24” on his club’s commemorative shirt to mark Amakhosi’s golden jubilee year. However, it is not a random number – Motaung revealed that he inherited the number while playing for the Atlanta Chiefs in the US. This, he said, was in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. Unlike many other heroes of his time, including his former club team-mate, Brazilian great Pelé, who made number 10 famous, Motaung wore number 11 at Orlando Pirates before he made 24 his trademark.
“When I was still playing for Pirates, I was wearing number 11. But when I went to Atlanta, and because the league had started a year before I got there, obviously they were short of numbers.
“So the number that was allocated to me was 24. That is why, when we started Chiefs [in January 1970], I continued with number 24. So the number is from my days in Atlanta,” said Motaung on the sidelines of Chiefs’ 50th anniversary celebration gig in Phefeni, Soweto, this week.
Yesteryear Amakhosi striker Absalom “Scara” Thindwa is most remembered as a player who wore the number 10 jersey with distinction during his time at Chiefs. Midfielder Siphelele Ntshangase is the latest holder of the magical number. No player turns out in Kaizer’s 24 in the senior Amakhosi squad.