Famous sportspeople now know his name but before his stunning bicycle kick goal, Oscarine Masuluke was probably only a household name in his home town of Giyani in Limpopo.
But these days, even recently retired 100m and 200m world record holder Usain Bolt is speaking highly of the 24-year-old Baroka FC goalkeeper.
Masuluke’s wonder goal has made the last three in the Fifa Puskas Award. Bolt told Fifa.com yesterday he would pick it for the winner.
“I’d vote for Oscarine Masuluke. For a goalkeeper to score an overhead kick in stoppage time like that is impressive,” he said.
It was November 30, 2016 when, acting on instinct, Masuluke ran from his poles to the opposite end as Bakgaga were awarded a corner kick in a match against Orlando Pirates.
Baroka were trailing 1-0 at the time and the corner was their last chance at getting anything out of the match at Peter Mokaba Stadium.
As the corner was swung in, Pirates keeper Jackson Mabokgwane punched the ball away.
But his clearance was not convincing and Masuluke latched onto it, let the ball bounce once in the penalty area, and unleashed an overhead kick into the top corner with his back to goal.
The dance that followed as Masuluke celebrated did the rounds on social media. He has been encouraged that if he wins the Puskas Award, he must perform the dance when he gets on stage to receive his gong.
Bolt is not the only famous sportsperson to publicly declare that they would pick Masuluke’s goal as the winner of the award on Monday night.
Former Nigeria Super Eagles star Jay-Jay Okocha and former Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo have also previously waxed lyrical about the wonder strike.
Okocha said: “My vote goes to the goalkeeper because it’s so rare to see something like that. Goals by goalkeepers are already very unusual and last-minute bicycle kicks are too special. I think it really was something very special.”
Di Matteo also enjoyed the celebration that followed the goal. “I really liked the strike by the goalkeeper and the celebrations afterwards were pretty unique too.”
Speaking to The Citizen shortly after scoring his goal, Masuluke admitted he had not expected the goal to catapult him into an instant celebrity.
“Since the goal, people stop me in the streets and want to discuss it. I play for their entertainment and if they want to talk to me, I have no problem,” he said.
Masuluke said he was a striker before a coach at amateur level decided he should be a goalkeeper because of his height.
Speaking at a farewell function held in his honour on Thursday evening in Giyani, Masuluke said he felt really humbled. “I never pictured this. I am humbled, thanks to everyone who has voted for me,” said Masuluke.
The 24-year-old keeper will tomorrow evening travel to the London Palladium where the awards function will be held.
Mabokgwane, the ’keeper against whom Masuluke scored, attracted social media wrath last week when he said in a radio interview that he had not and would not vote for the goal as he considered that the job of supporters.
“I’m a football player I don’t go around voting,” Jackson Mabokgwane told PowerFM when asked if he voted for Masuluke for the Puskas Award.
Mabokgwane, however, admitted that the goal was worthy of a top three, adding that he based his view on the importance of the goal and not on his Baroka counterpart’s skill.
“I’m not surprised the goal is in the top three because of the importance. Funny enough, I was actually named man of the match in that game but after his goal, they gave it to him.” – firstname.lastname@example.org
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