Ten years to the day since the goal that changed his life, Siphiwe Tshabalala says his 2010 FIFA World Cup thunderbolt was “a beautiful story about a young boy from the dusty streets of Soweto, who always dreamt of playing on the big stage, and whose dreams came true”.
Tshabalala’s goal was watched by hundreds of millions of people in every corner of the world, and jolted Africa’s first FIFA World Cup into life.
“The goal was the greatest moment of my life and my career. It made me realise that what I did was bigger than me, bigger than all of us, because of the impact it had on the lives of many South Africans,” he says.
“It united people, we were one country celebrating, one human race, and I believe it set the tone for the World Cup. It was a big moment not only for me, but for Bafana Bafana, for South Africa, for Africa, and for the whole world.”
A decade later, “Shabba’” is still taken aback by the intensity of the “hype” around his goal and the emotions it continues to evoke among South African and African football fans. And even when he was in Hong Kong on vacation, he was recognised on the streets and asked to take pictures with excited football fans.
“It is 10 years later and time flies, but people make sure you don’t forget and there are constant reminders of what I did on the day. Wherever I go, people still want to talk about and relive the goal. It is not just about the goal, but also a sense of how big the occasion was,” says Tshabalala.
“We were the first, and to date, the only country on this continent to host such a big sporting event, and all eyes were on us. As a player, it was a dream come true – playing in the first FIFA World Cup on home soil. So we are talking about history on top of history.
Led by captain Aaron Mokoena and coached by Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira, Bafana Bafana put smiles on everyone’s faces and Tshabalala’s moment of brilliance ensured the home team surprised the football world by holding the experienced Mexicans to a draw in the tournament opener.
Tshabalala today launches an inspirational children’s book “Super Shabba”, which is based on his life and which he hopes will serve as an inspiration to African children that, as he has done, they too can live out their lives.