SA man breaks foot­ball record

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SAMEER NAIK

EVER­TON mid­fielder Theo Wal­cott used to be able to say he held a Guin­ness World Record for his first touch.

Not any longer. The star English player had his ti­tle stolen by a South African.

With the help of Heineken, lo­cal freestyle player Khris Njok­wana this week broke the Guin­ness World Record for the high­est al­ti­tude foot­ball dropped and con­trolled.

At Jo­han­nes­burg Sta­dium, a crane dropped a ball 37.4m, and the Capeto­nian con­trolled it be­fore mak­ing a min­i­mum of five touches (as per the rules) be­fore hit­ting the ground.

It took him three at­tempts, but Njok­wana’s new record beat Wal­cott’s by 3.4mto write his name into the record books.

Njok­wana said it felt “un­real” be­ing able to beat a record held by a player he ad­mired all his life.

“I’ve al­ways seen him as one of my foot­balling icons, so to break a record held by Wal­cott is some­thing else,” he said.

The well-known freestyler had doubts, es­pe­cially af­ter he failed on his first two at­tempts.

“The week lead­ing up to the world record at­tempt I was con­fi­dent and pumped up.

“On the day, I had my doubts, es­pe­cially af­ter the sec­ond at­tempt. It was dra­matic and very emo­tional.”

It took weeks of in­tense prepa­ra­tion.

“Heineken South Africa pro­vided me with a clear set of rules, as the ex­pec­ta­tions set out by the world record or­gan­i­sa­tion are strin­gent.

“They were in­tri­cate and placed ad­di­tional stress on me. It was also hard to fully pre­pare for it as I was based in Cape Town and it’s dif­fi­cult to gain ac­cess to sky­scrapers to train for the record.”

Al­ti­tude was also a fac­tor. “Each time the ball dropped, it dropped with a dif­fer­ent ve­loc­ity. It came down like a ton of bricks on my thigh. I was ic­ing my legs for days af­ter.”

For­mer Ever­ton player Steven Pien­aar en­cour­aged him through­out his at­tempt. “He is a foot­ball leg­end so it was an hon­our. It was nerve-rack­ing, so a big thanks to him for en­cour­ag­ing me and not putting pres­sure on me.”

Pien­aar was im­pressed. “A soc­cer ball is hard enough to con­trol when dropped from 2m or 3m high, but 37.4m is a whole new level,” he said.

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