The Legend Has Spoken; My man McKop

Pernell Makhiwa McKop

“In my days the toughest opponents I faced were too many and we had true legends that played diski so to single out only one would be doing a disservice to all the greats of Zimbabwean football, but I’ll mention a few. Shackman Tauro, Stanley Ndunduma, Stanford Stix Mtizwa, Lloyd Katswere, Joel Jubilee Shambo, Friday Amayenge Phiri, Moses Chunga, Sunday and Misheck Marimo, Majid and Hamid Dhana, Charlie Jones, Joseph Zulu, Ephert Lungu and Max ‘Shaluza Max’ Tshuma.”

e-Diski caught up with yet another great and humble goalkeeper of all time with such a passionate love of the game and his family, Pernell Makhiwa McKop.

e-Diski: Pee my friend, long time. How are you?

McKop: Hello Ndex, thanks for contacting me.

e-Diski: It is my pleasure my man, to have a true legend of the game talking to us.

McKop: Just to clear up one item though, I don’t consider myself a legend. I am just someone lucky enough to have played with and against some of Zimbabwe’s greatest players after our Independence.

e-Diski: So, where do you live?

McKop: I am currently in South Africa, here in Cape Town.

e-Diski: Do you have any family?

McKop: I do have a lovely family. I have 3 children, my son Jodene 21 is a Goalkeeper (e-Diski intejecting – ‘like yourself – I remember him being a trainee at KFA ), of course hahaha, and my 2 beautiful daughters, Shanice 17 and Chelsey 6. Lets not forget my adorable wife Zelda. We married for 24 years now.

e-Diski: What was your favourite nickname?

McKop: When played back home in Zimbabwe the Highlanders fans gave me the nickname Makhiwa.

e-Diski: How did you get it?

McKop: This was started by Willard Mashinkila Khumalo and Madinda Ndlovu,when we were in the Young Warriors together and it stuck and eventually spread.

e-Diski: What are you doing now?

McKop: Well, I’m a Specialist Goalkeeper Coach and have been coaching in the South African Premeire League and First Division for the last 7 years. I’ve worked for a number of Clubs such as Santos, Free State Stars, FCAK, Bay United and Maritzburg United. I’ve just parted ways with Mritzburg United and I now have my own business called Just4Keepers Cape Town. It is an International Goalkeeping School that is based in 12 countries World Wide. It involves coaching and developing young keepers.

e-Diski: Wow, that’s interesting. When was your defining or breakthrough moment?

McKop: I played for a team called Cosmos in the Second Division and we played against Highlanders in a ZIFA Quater Final match at Barbourfields Stadium and the crowd that day came hoping for a massacre.

e-Diski: How old were you then Pee?

McKop I was still 15 years old but we really played well and even though we lost 2-1 on that day, I had a great afternoon. Bosso had Mark Watson, who scored the winner, Tymon Mabaleka, Earnest Sibanda, Peter Nkomo playing on that day. After the match, Malcolm King told me, ” Mfana you must come and play for Highlanders”. From that day on, I knew that one day I’d be a Bosso player.

e-Diski: Tjooo, even more experienced goalkeepers would never want to face that firepower. What was the regrettable moment?

McKop: My regrettable moment was the day I had to retire from football at the age of 22. I had just left Saints and gone back to Highlanders and learnt that an old back injury I picked up playing for (Zimbabwe) Saints needed to be operated on, or else I would end up in a wheelchair.

e-Diski: How did you hear about that, who broke the bad news to you?

McKop Dr. Vic Naik, who was the Highlanders Physio broke the news to me and I thought it was the end of the world but not realising it then, God put my life on a new path and this is why I am doing what I’m doing today. I don’t live my life on regret and always look on the positive side of all disappointment.

e-Diski: That was sad to many fans of yours because you had Bulawayo fans and not just Saints or Bosso. Who was your toughest opponent to play against?

McKop: In my days the toughest opponents I faced were too many and we had true legends that played diski so to single out only one would be doing a disservice to all the greats of Zimbabwean football, but I’ll mention a few. Shackman Tauro, Stanley Ndunduma, Stanford Stix Mtizwa, Lloyd Katswere, Joel Jubilee Shambo, Friday Amayenge Phiri, Moses Chunga, Sunday and Misheck Marimo, Majid and Hamid Dhana, Charlie Jones, Joseph Zulu, Ephert Lungu and Max Tshuma.

e-Diski: Don’t forget Tanny Bnda and Boy Ndlovu while they were still at Eagles.

McKop Like I said, there were just too many great players back then and they all in their own way were very dangerous.

e-Diski: Which teams did you play for?

McKop: I played for Arcadia Karls, Eagles, Highlanders and Saints.

e-Diski: Your favourite team-mates?

McKop Frankly, all my team mates were brilliant, with their own strengths and weaknesses and they complemented each other well enough to make great teams.

e-Diski: What do you think of football today?

McKop I can not comment on the football today in Zimbabwe, because i have not been home for almost 5 years, but looking at the talent that finds it’s way into South African Clubs, it looks as though there is still some very talented players coming through.

e-Diski: Which team do you support?

McKop: As for the teams I am obviously still a very big Bosso and Saints fan. I love both clubs and I am a member of both of their Fan pages on Facebook and I keep up with all the latest news of both Clubs.

e-Diski: Which team do you think is the best in the world right now?

McKop: Ndex, the best team in world football today has to be Barcelona. They are incredible and have taken football to another level, actually it’s fantasy football.

e-Diski: And the best footballer?

McKop: As for the greatest player today, everyone would say Messi and yes he is an unbelievable player but only at club level. He is unable to produce that form at the highest level when playing for Argentina, and lets not forget about Ronaldo brother, an exceptional player at club level. In my opinion Messi has another dimension to his game that Ronaldo doesn’t have. But the greatest player for me is Iniesta for Barcelona and Spain, he makes things tick for both Club And Country. A very unassuming player but everything goes through him at both Club and Country.

e-Diski: What do you think about football in general?

McKop: Football is and has always been my passion and it’s a great part of my life.

e-Diski: What music do you listen to?

McKop I love all types of music and genres, Soul, Jazz, Old School, Gospel, all of it satisfies me.

e-Diski: Which is your favourite movie?

McKop: My favourite movie, again too many to mention from action to drama, romance and Sci Fi, I enjoy them all.

e-Diski: Thanks Pee for connecting with us and hope we chat again soon. God bless you and family.

McKop Anytime my man and the pleasure was mine Tse Ndex, you keep well and pass on my warmest regards to the Soweto and Mpilo end stands at BF.

Pernell McKop was such an agile goalkeeper and for his supersized frame, he had tremendous reflexes and acrobatics and it was so sad that his career did not reach its potential but for those who saw him play, he was such a darling. I think I remember Pee playing against for Saints against Bosso suffering all verbal abuse because of his point blank saves and then coming to play for Highlanders the very next weekend and being the crowd favourite. There were no transfer windows then. What a guy!


5 comments on “The Legend Has Spoken; My man McKop

    • You know Beke, I did my very first coaching course with this guy. Initially, he had been my goalkeeping coach (I wonder he remembers) after he could not play anymore. We had about 13 goalkeepers at Bosso at that time. You would think Pernell will take you as a nobody given the other highly ranked keepers like Smart Moyo, Musawenkosi Masango, Mthandazo Sithole, Sydney Zimunya to name a few (Oxo had his career ending injury and it was before the arrival of Johannes Tshuma). May God richly bless you, your family and your endeavours.

  1. Tse, thanks for this great article. Pernell was a great goal keeper indeed. He has done very well here in South Africa as a goal keeper coach. Thanks for the memories. I cannot believe that you stood around and trained as one of the 13 goal keepers when you could have challenged for a position as a striker. In fact very few people know that Tse was a also a very good, forceful, old fashioned but effective centre forward who used to pack “thunderous” shots- in the mould of Nigerian great Rashidi Yekini!!

    • Pernell has been a role model to many that shared the playing field with him. I pray that his new school bears fruits. Such a humble and true gentleman. I must say I am flattered concerning me, but that is correct. I was a centre forward and nicknamed Thunderboots, but when we played other teams, they refused to have me play because of that. To take part, I had to keep goals and that stuck. I always thoughts of myself as a striker everyone else would rather have me in goals. Anyway, thanks for the complement and comment. I must say that even with 13 goalkeepers, I fancied my chances very well and vowed not to play for another team if I did not make it to the first team. After the arrival of Johannes Tshuma, the rest is history.

  2. cud u get us an interview with willard mashinkila khumalo, we are curious to know where the other greats such as himself are…..

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