Richard Kingson was a happy man as Ghana beat Serbia 1-0 in their 2010 FIFA World Cup™ opener in Tshwane/Pretoria, celebrating his 32nd birthday in style by turning in an immaculate goalkeeping display.
Not surprisingly, the Wigan Athletic keeper’s face was a picture of contentment when he spoke exclusively to FIFA after the final whistle, explaining the many reasons for the Black Stars’ delight at their hard-fought win.
“It was a fantastic win and my team-mates dedicated it to me because it’s my birthday,” said the Ghana gloveman, clearly thrilled by his clean sheet and his colleagues’ gesture. “I couldn’t have had a better present and what happened today means a lot to me. I’ll cherish this special day forever.”
That dedication was a heartfelt one. Kingson was one of the architects of the African side’s opening win, the highlight of his fine display being a superb stop to deny Serbian right winger Milos Krasic when the score was still 0-0.
“At that stage of the game either side could have gone on to win it. There was nothing between us,” he said, describing what was one of the decisive moments of the game. “I always try to be alert whenever the other side is on the attack and so when the shot came in I was ready for it and able to stop it.”
I couldn’t have had a better present and what happened today means a lot to me.
Not only did Kingson’s heroics ensure three points for his side, they also helped secure the first victory for an African team at the tournament, a landmark he was understandably proud of. “This is Africa’s World Cup for sure. It’s on our continent and it is an honour for us to have won this game for all the people who live on it. And there’ll be more victories to come, let me assure you.”
There were an estimated 20,000 Ghana fans in the stands at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium, a vital factor in his side’s successful afternoon according to Kingson: “Ghanaian and African people in general live and breathe football and they do so with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. Hearing all those fans out there was incredible.”
The Ghana players are no less passionate and celebrated the three points with some exuberant singing in the dressing room. “That’s our way of expressing our thanks for what was a great result. It means a lot to me on a personal level and I know that our team spirit played a big part in us winning the game.”