Xoki explains reason behind his new ‘Zulu Shaka’ celebration

Xoki explains reason behind his new ‘Zulu Shaka’ celebration

Orlando Pirates defender Tapelo Xoki has shed some light on his new celebration, saying it was inspired by the man who discovered him.

Xoki cites legendary George “Zulu Shaka” Dearnaley, the former AmaZulu and Bafana Bafana star, for paving his way to Premiership football.

Dearnaley took him to Usuthu from his amateur team, Old Mutual FC of Cape Town, in 2014. He made his PSL debut the same year at Durban’s biggest club, after arriving there as Tapelo Nyongo. He changed his surname to Xoki in 2019.

The strong-willed 29-year-old has been outstanding since joining Pirates two seasons ago. His leadership qualities have seen him take up the role of vice-captain since the first season with the Soweto giants. As such, he started many games as captain.

His overall confidence has led to him slotting himself into the Bucs’ attack pattern, while keeping to his role in central defence. Xoki has, as a result, scored crucial goals for the Buccaneers. He is now the team’s go-to man for penalties.

Nerves of steel

One of his recent conversions from the spotkick saw Orlando Pirates steal a point from Mamelodi Sundowns on February 17. Showing nerves of steel, Xoki calmly beat Africa’s No. 1 Rowan Williams. This happened in the packed Loftus Versfeld stadium, and forced a 1-1 draw.

However, it was his celebration that left many supporters confused as to what it really meant.

“That celebration is dedicated to George Dearnaley. His birthday was coming up on February 23, so I thought I should [pay] tribute to him. He had also been involved in a car accident, so I think it lifted his spirits. It [the celebration] is how he used to do it … the Zulu Shaka. So I am glad for the tribute to him,” Xoki explained.

“I will definitely continue with it going forward because he sent me a message after he saw it. He said it’s contagious and that if I continue doing it, it might rub off in terms of goals. Hopefully, it will bring me more goals.

George Dearnaley is like a father

“He is like a father to me; he is someone that played a huge part and propelled me to be where I am.

“From the day I completed my studies, he has been there. He has always made me believe and made ways for me to get to the next level as far as football is concerned.

“He is someone I admire a lot because he took me to AmaZulu and played a huge role in my career. So any chance I get to give him props, I will do it,” added the man from Khayelitsha in Cape Town.

Xoki and Pirates will be back at the DStv Premiership action when they take on Polokwane City on Saturday. Kickoff at Peter Mokaba Stadium is at 3.30pm.

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