A seventh Premier Soccer League title for Hlompho Kekana in 2019-20 confirmed his status as one of South African football's modern greats.
In case you didn't know much about Mamelodi Sundowns' captain fantastic, here's something to bring you up to speed.
💅🏿 Model pro
Kekana is a combative and explosive character on the pitch, but off it, he's as humble as they come. Regarded by his teammates as a model professional and example, he takes care of his body and is fit as a fiddle even at the ripe age of 35. His devotion to a healthy diet doesn't do him any harm either.
The midfield general is popular with journalists too, always making himself available for calls and interviews. In the aftermath of Sundowns' tenth ABSA Premiership title win, a triumph that completed a fabled "La Decima", Kekana was effusive when praising his teammates, the men who fought alongside him to snatch the title on the very final day. Kekana is truly team-oriented man.
Kekana has let his football do the talking at Sundowns, collecting a treasure trove of silverware since making the switch from Bloem Celtic in 2011.
- 🇿🇦 7 x PSL titles
- 🏆 1 x CAF Champions League title
- ☕️ 1 x CAF Super Cup
- 📲 2 x Telkom Knockout titles
35-year-old Kekana is the most decorated player in the history of South African top-flight football with seven ABSA Premiership titles to his name. The Sundowns skipper will be gunning for an unprecedented eighth crown next season as the South African Premier Soccer League rebrands, with Pitso Mosimane expected to lean on his captain once again in 2020-21.
Somewhat surprisingly, Kekana has only been capped 21 times by Bafana Bafana, but he hasn't allowed that oddity to get in the way of his quest for club glory. It's hard to forget Kekana's match-winning display in the 2015 Telkom Knockout against Kaizer Chiefs at Moses Mabhida Stadium. Amakhosi were denied not once but twice from the penalty spot by the excellent Denis Onyango in goal, first from Siphiwe Tshabalala and then Camaldine Abraw. It would be Kekana who smashed home Sundowns' third from a sublime Themba Zwane backheel to seal a 3-1 win. As on so many occasions throughout his career, Hlompho was on the winning side in a cup final.
A year later, Kekana would lift African club football's biggest prize as Sundowns became CAF Champions League kings.
👘 Style & evolution
Kekana's evolution into a complete midfield player has seen him reinvent his style on more than one occasion. Originally a pure defensive midfielder, he's moved through the gears as a destructive box-to-box operator, later a classic number 8 and now does a bit of everything on a football pitch.
Nothing quite says "the complete package" like a midfielder who chips in with crucial goals in big games, thunderbolts from range, curling free-kicks and a nomination for the Puskás award in 2016. Only players with massive personalities can pull off an audacious effort from around 60 yards like Kekana did against Cameroon some four years ago, and this man has those qualities and more in abundance. The Guardian called the goal "Beckham-esque." Moving back to the present, Kekana has only gone and earned YET another nomination for a Puskás award - check out 2020's candidates.
🏆 Nominees: FIFA #Puskás Award— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) November 25, 2020
🇨🇷 Shirley Cruz
🇺🇾 Giorgian De Arrascaeta
🏴 Jordan Flores
🇫🇷 André-Pierre Gignac
🏴 Sophie Ingle
🇦🇹 Zlatko Junuzović
🇿🇦 Hlompho Kekana
🇰🇷 Son Heungmin
🇪🇨 Leonel Quiñónez
🇺🇾 Luis Suárez
🏴 Caroline Weir
🗳️ VOTE NOW 👉 https://t.co/gI6ctiog35 pic.twitter.com/mCXgcWs91r
🧠 Did you know?
On March 4th 2012, Mamelodi Sundowns broke the South African record for most goals scored in a single match when they beat Powerlines FC 24-0 in the Nedbank Cup. Kekana helped himself to seven goals on the day as Sundowns showed no mercy to their amateur opponents.
In a galaxy of Sundowns stars like Zwane, Zungu, Billiat, Modise, Dolly & Tau, Hlompho Kekana has been the rock orbiting Lucas "Masterpieces" Moripe Stadium for almost a decade.
💦 Check Hlompho out on Instagram.