Once in a Lifetime
1st June 2010
Since his conversation with Anatoli Davydov on that cold February morning, Luke Hendricks had very rarely been without a smile. The meeting with his manager was one that saw Lukes emotions vary. For starters, sitting in the heavily heated office to combat the -6° that surrounded the St. Petersburg area, he believed he was being sold, just like when Henk ten Cate sold him in 2007. But what Davydov told him was the polar opposite. Instead of Luke being sold, star winger Andrey Arsharvin was leaving for Arsenal, and Luke was given the responsibilities of filling the stars boots. Arsharvin had scored 71 goals in 291 games for his boyhood club before leaving for the North London side, meaning Luke's job was going to be tough.
But it was one that the, now 23 year old exceeded all expectations. In his first season as a starter, Luke played in all but two of Zenits 38 games scoring six goals and assisting nine. Off the back of Luke breaking out for the Russian side, the club finished 3rd, just a point off 2nd placed Spartak Moscow.
Having impressed in the previous season, the start of this season has been unbelievable for both Luke and Zenit. Continuing to start and play a vital role for the team, Luke has scored five goals along with two assists in the first ten games of the season. Luke performances sees his side top the league early into the season, currently unbeaten, only dropping points in three games.
Despite an impressive start to the season, Luke's mind wasn’t focused on training today, a rarity for him. Normally one of the hardest workers in the squad and a man who prided himself upon treating training just like a game, he couldn’t take his focus from the fact that the Bafana Bafana squad was to be announced later today.
Making his debut in 2006, having impressed in glimpses at Ajax, Luke came off the bench in South Africa’s final African Cup of Nations fixture against Zambia. With his team already out of the tournament, haven fallen to defeats against Guinea and Tunisia, and 1-0 down against a poor Zambia team, Luke’s dreams came true in the 82nd minute.
With the mixed amount of game time at club level following the tournament, Luke struggled to cement his place in the Bafana side, making just seven appearances in the next three seasons. However, upon breaking into the first team at Zenit, and making a great impact, Luke began to see a lot more national games as the run in to the World Cup began. Now an almost guaranteed starter having scored twice and assisted four times in his 16 games for his nation, Luke still felt a sense of nerves about being called up.
Not only would a callup be the biggest moment in Luke's career, but it would also allow, the soon to be 24 year old, the opportunity to see his Mum and Dad. Despite being supportive throughout, Grace and Liam struggled to fund any trips to visit their son, with work limited to unskilled workers. Luke, who was receiving a good amount of money at this stage of his career, saw very limited time to travel back home and despite the handsome pay packet, would often send money back to his parents to ensure they could live in some sort of comfort. This meant that since leaving his home in 2005, Luke had only seen his parents on the few occasions South Africa had played home fixtures.
Having ended a poor training performance, by anyone’s standards, let alone Lukes, he entered the changing rooms still focused on the squad announcement due in an hours time. It gave him time to get showered, changed and drive the fifteen minute journey home, in order to see if he had made the side. Sitting down at his computer, Luke loaded up the News 24 website headlined “BAFANA BAFANA NAME WORLD CUP SQUAD”
Taking a deep breath, Luke made his way through the list of names:
Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Moeneeb Josephs (Orlando Pirates), Shuaib Walters (Maritzburg United)
Defenders: Siboniso Gaxa (Sundowns), Anele Ngcongca (KRC Genk, Belgium), Aaron Mokoena (Blackburn Rovers), Matthew Booth (Sundowns), Bongani Khumalo (SuperSport United), Siyabonga Sangweni (Golden Arrows), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa, Israel), Lucas Thwala (Orlando Pirates)
Midfielders: Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Lance Davids (Ajax Cape Town), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (Kaizer Chiefs), MacBeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan, Russia), Luke Hendricks (FC Zenit Saint Petersburg)
, Kagiso Dikgacoi (Fulham, England), Steven Pienaar (Everton, England), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs)
Strikers: Surprise Moriri (Sundowns), Bernard Parker (FC Twente, Holland), Katlego Mphela (Sundowns), Siyabonga Nomvethe (Moroka Swallows)
“Yes!” screamed Luke, punching the air as he jumped from his seat.
Before any further celebrations could commence, his phone rang, with the Caller ID showing it was Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.
“Luke, have you seen the news?” asked Parreira.
“Yes boss, I have. Thank you so much! This means a lot to me, I can’t wait to put a show on and help us achieve something.” replied the still emotional Luke.
“That is great to hear. Get a bag packed, your club has been contacted, you will be flying tonight. Congratulations Luke, you deserve it!”
Additional game time seems to be working for Luke! Thanks mate!
Was a nice little reminder when I was doing research, forgot all about him! Thank You mate, means a lot that.
A massive loss, but it seems Luke has it covered for the time being!
A massive opportunity for Luke, and it seems he is taking the chance. World Cup is certainly another chance to impress!