19 April 2020 – SuperSport.com talks to Dean Furman, skipper of SuperSport United and Bafana Bafana midfield regular.

How are you getting along during the lockdown?

“SuperSport have given us all some fitness work to do so I’m just trying to be imaginative, trying to invent little fitness things to do because I do not have a lot of equipment around the house. I’m just trying to stay active and keep imaginative, keep the mind going and keep to some level of fitness, the best we can do under the circumstances?”

Word has it you are at the top of the table in the competition of the daily challenges that you and your teammates have been set by the SuperSport technical team. Is that right?

“It’s tight at the top! It’s been a great idea, to keep up team spirit, some camaraderie and has kept us competitive, so it really has been a great initiative by the club. It’s kept us all active and really been keeping that spirit alive, which is really important. We don’t want to lose that team spirit.”

Even though the season is not yet over, how do you look back on it, considering you did win the MTN8 but you have also let a good chance for the league title slip a bit in recent games?

“I think over my time here, the league is something that we look back on with that little feeling of ‘if only’. It’s really down to our consistency. If you just look at this season: we’ve gone out and beaten (Kaizer) Chiefs, we got four points off them; we’ve beaten (Orlando) Pirates, we did the double over Wits and we’ve taken four points off Maritzburg, who are having a great season. But we’ve dropped points to teams the bottom of the table in games where we were favoured to win and that’s the real disappointment for us. That level of consistency is something we have not managed to achieve in our league form and that’s why we finds ourselves sitting in third spot but really it’s going to be extremely difficult to mount a serious charge. We’d have to go on a great run of form and hope other results go for us. It’s disappointing to be so close. Yes, we are just a little bit off the pace and that’s the disappointment for us because we know we certainly have the ability and squad to be mounting a serious title challenge.”

Coaches in the Premier Soccer League often moan that players at top teams don’t take the games against the so-called minnows seriously. Do you think that’s something unique to South Africa where a lot of points are dropped by the big guns against supposedly inferior opposition?

“I think that’s probably true in sport generally. You tend to get hyped up for the so-called big games and then the difference between league winners and teams who finished a little bit down is being able to maintain that level of focus, intensity and commitment when a game isn’t as high profile. It’s something you see across all leagues and, really, you’ve got to give credit to the team that wins the league because they are able to maintain a level of consistency, regardless of the so-called importance of the game. It’s stating the obvious but really every game should be as important as the next. That’s the real disappointment for us and it’s no disrespect to some of the clubs sitting in the bottom half of the table because there are some really good teams down there and, on their day, we know that in this league, everyone is capable of beating everyone. The biggest challenge for us, as SuperSport, going forward, is to start putting that right. At Atteridgeville, we’ve struggled a bit and we’ve got to start turning Atteridgeville into a bit of a fortress and turning those draws into victories.”

When did you decide not to renew your contract and to go back to Britain?

“It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while. My wife is pregnant and due in June and so that was one of the driving factors. We wanted to be closer to our family back in the UK, her parents and my parents. I sat on the decision for a long time. We discussed it back and forth with the club, with the management, with my wife, my family, my representative. We went back and forth and played out every scenario and we just thought it was the right thing to do at this stage of our lives. I’ll be leaving with a heavy heart because I’ve had a wonderful five years, I’ve really enjoyed every minute of it and I think we’ve been successful. I’m desperately sad to be leaving but it’s just something I have to do for my family’s sake.”

You were a teenage prodigy in England at Chelsea but never played in the Premier League. Given how well you’ve done with Bafana Bafana and the international profile you’ve created for yourself, do you go back to England with something to prove?

“It’s going to be difficult because the level of competition in the UK is so high. I’ve also been away: a little bit of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for the last five years. And the coronavirus situation now makes it more difficult. I was having a solid career in the UK, I’ve played in the Championship but played most of my football in League One. I wouldn’t say that was a failure, I was captain at Oldham aged 23 which is something I’m very proud of, got a transfer to Doncaster Rovers and helped them to win promotion to the Championship. I wouldn’t say I’ve got anything to prove but I’m always trying to prove to myself. I’m always trying to push myself to get better, to be the best I can be. That’s what drives me through my career and that’s what will continue to drive me, going forward in the next few years at whatever level I manage to play in England.”