Goalkeeper Tapuwa Kaipini, who has been keeping goals at top-flight level for the past 20 years, has attributed his longevity in the game to discipline.
The seasoned ‘keeper is on the verge of a second promotion, into the DStv Premiership in South Africa, with Sekhukhune United, in a rollercoaster twilight of his career.
The team climbed to the top of the second-tier GladAfrica Championship table, via a boardroom decision on Wednesday, and are now favourites for direct promotion.
The former Warriors ‘keeper, who clocks 37 years in July this year, told The Herald from his base in South Africa, he is still looking forward to some few more seasons in top-flight football, if they manage to make it.
“I don’t have many special secrets, only working hard and looking after my body well,” he said.
“My wife (Sandra Mpala) is always by my side, encouraging me, and the club have been looking after me very well.
“They have given me rest, when I needed rest, when I need to train, they have pushed me to train hard.
“I have been training very hard, in football, if you stay humble, your career will blossom and you will be able to go far.
“You also need to respect the game.
“From day one, when I said I wanted to play football, I knew there were many pitfalls that come with being a professional footballer, like binge drinking and the womanising, which often give footballers a bad name.
“All these things shorten one’s career. My development coaches — Victor Mwanasanga, Tendai Mwanasanga, the late George Mandizvidza and my brother Noel Itai Kapini — always talked about discipline because football has many distractions.”
Kapini joined a then star-studded Highlanders side in 2001, where he won three championship medals, before packing his bags for South Africa to join the now defunct Premiership side, Platinum Stars, in 2006.
He was part of the inaugural Warriors squad at the 2004 AFCON finas in Tunisia and was also part of the team who made their second consecutive appearance, at the finals, in Egypt, in 2006.
He also played for South Africa Premiership sides AmaZulu and Highlands Park.
He suffered relegation with Highlands but then captained the side, back into the Premiership, after playing one season in the second-tier in 2018.
His side Sekhukhune United are now top of the table, with just one round of matches, before the curtain comes down on the race.
The PSL disciplinary committee awarded them three points on Wednesday, after Polokwane City were found guilty of contravening the rules, by failing to include five Under-23 players on their team sheet, in the 1-0 win over Sekhukhune in January.
Sekhukhune United are now perched on 50 points, along with their main promotion rivals, Royal AM, but they have a better goal difference.
Kapini, who was offloaded by Highlands Park last year, feels he has revived his career.
The seasoned goalkeeper celebrated keeping 10 clean sheets, this week, following the 2-0 win over Polokwane City, in their penultimate game.
Sekhukhune are also home to the Zimbabwean pair of defender McClive Phiri and striker Walter Musona.
They are set for a nervy finish against JDR Stars, whose quest for a promotional play-off suffered a blow when they drew 1-1 with Edmore Chirambadare’s Steenberg United, recently.
“It’s not been an easy journey,” said Kapini.
“Keeping 10 clean sheets, for a goalkeeper, is quite not easy. But, it all comes back to hard work, how dedicated are you to work hard, with the goalkeepers’ coach, and all the guys in the team.
“So, the 10 clean sheets we have at Sekhukhune belong to the team. It also belongs to the hard work that I have been putting in as an individual.
“All we need in our last game is to go there and play our normal football.
“We know it’s not going to be easy playing JDR because they need to qualify for the play-offs as well.”