siphiwe-tshabalala’s-opening-goal-at-2010-world-cup-with-peter-drury-commentary-will-never-be-matched

“TSHABALALAAAA!!!

“GOAL BAFANA BAFANA!

“GOAL FOR SOUTH AFRICA!

“GOAL FOR ALL AFRICA!””

It has been 12 years since that life-changing moment in Johannesburg and from his home in South Africa, an emotional Siphiwe Tshabalala is watching the greatest moment of his career on a Zoom call.

With the unmistakable sound of Peter Drury’s commentary fresh in his memory, he sits back in his chair and delivers a trademark smile.

“People still talk about how much of an impact this goal has on them,” he tells SPORTbible from his home in South Africa. “People across the world still give me love. I’m just grateful that I’ve touched lives through my god-given talent. It gave people hope. It united a nation.”

It remains one of the most memorable World Cup moments in recent memory.

On June 11 2010, in the 54th minute of South Africa’s eagerly anticipated opener against Mexico, the 94,000-capacity Soccer City stadium erupted into a chorus of Vuvuzela-inspired noise.

“It’s the goal that set the tone. It brought everyone together. Everyone rejoiced. Everyone was happy. There were lots of hugs and kisses in the stadium. It was just amazing,” Tshabalala recalls.

After a tense first half of few chances the Soweto-born midfielder flung his trusty left boot at a perfectly weighted, defence-splitting, 40-yard through ball from teammate Kagisho Dikgacoi.

“As soon as the ball left my boot, I knew it was going in,” he confidently tells us, just days before the 10-year anniversary.

“It was crazy. It was brilliant. It was emotional. But it also took me back to when I was a little child – full of dreams, wanting to play on the big stage and years later, I’m scoring as the world watches.

“It was such a big moment for me, South Africa and the world at large.”

Seconds after finding the top corner, Tshabalala ran towards the capacity crowd with his arms aloft and famously performed a choreographed celebration alongside his teammates.

“Jabulile! Rejoice!” said a taken aback Drury on commentary. “Bafana Bafana have popped the first cork of their day of days!”

The Macarena-style dance was in full swing, led by the man who was convinced he’d score against the Mexicans weeks prior.

“I did it (the dance) because I was positive,” he explains “I knew I would definitely score. Hence the celebration. It was perfect. The coordination and timing. Everything. I’m a confident guy. I believe in myself. I believe in my talent.”

Image credit: AlamyFor Drury, the man who had the best seat in the house at the Soccer City Stadium, it remains one of his favourite moments in football.

“It was just a beautiful day for sport and humanity,” he told SPORTbible.

“It did something for the world that day that politics can never do. In that stadium in Johannesburg, the world was unified and equalised racially.

“Everyone was together. Arms were around shoulders, regardless of race, colour and creed. There was a universal smile around that game and then a boy called [Siphiwe] Tshabalala, who’d grown up in Soweto, scored a beautiful, beautiful goal.

“The symbolism of it hit me at the time and continues to hit me. Funnily enough, this summer during lockdown, was the tenth anniversary of that goal and I went on South African radio and they fixed me up with Tshabalala.”

Drury added: “It was a beautiful thing and honestly I welled up. That was the first game of a World Cup, South Africa didn’t win it and nor did Mexico but I don’t think there’s been a more symbolic game in terms of what sport and football can do for the world than that game and that goal.

“I was lucky to have been there in a good seat to watch it.”