JOHANNESBURG - Dean Furman is no ordinary player.
The whole debate about whether he’s worthy of wearing the Bafana Bafana jersey is, to be brutally honest, quite nauseating. Does he posses the kasi flavour that’s so appealing to the average South African football lover? The answer is no.
But is that really the criteria to selecting a player for the national team when so many coaches have in the past spoken out against showboating and have preferred a player with similar attributes to that of Furman than say a dribbling wizard?
Balance me real quick here. Is it a coincidence that the SuperSport United captain, who first made his Bafana debut against Brazil in September 2012 under then coach Gordon Igesund, has managed to hold on to his place in the national team set up under three different trainers?
Even Carlos Alberto Parreira thought to have a look at Furman when he was still in charge almost a decade ago, but the midfielder, only just 20 years old at the time, was an unused substitute in a friendly against Australia.
Igesund, Shakes Mashaba and now Stuart Baxter have not hid the fact that Furman is a key figure in their squads and saw fit to go as far as handing him the captain’s armband at some point during their tenures. Soon he will have played half a century of games for Bafana.
Now, there is this never-ending debate each time Furman is included in the national team and I can’t seem to understand what his crime is. The fact that Baxter has come under criticism for his selection of SuperSport players, a club he worked at for nearly two years before taking up the Bafana job, has obviously disadvantaged Furman.
We can debate the merits of whether Morgan Gould, Clayton Daniels and Reneilwe Letsholonyane - much older players who gave Baxter selection headaches because they were doing so well for their club last season during the crucial World Cup qualifiers - deserved to be considered for Bafana until kingdom come, but it’s unfair to drag Furman along.
I have personally interviewed the player about questions over his inclusion in the national team and so, too, has my colleague Njabulo Ngidi more recently following another silly uproar when Baxter announced his youthful squad for the Four Nations tournament in Zambia last week.
And Furman really shouldn’t have to defend himself - reasons why he is a constant figure in the Bafana squad are there for all to see.
“Everyone’s got their own opinion,” he told Ngidi a day or so after the team was announced. “I am now chasing 45 caps across three different coaches (Igesund, Mashaba and Baxter) who have selected me, so I must be doing something right.
"I am obviously not the most eye-catching player. I don’t have the skills. I don’t have the shibobos. I don’t have what many people believe is what they want from a player in this country. But what I do offer is consistency, hard work and graft.
"I wear my heart on my sleeve and I give absolutely everything, whether it’s at SuperSport or for my country. There have always been people who have questioned me. That’s fine. It’s up to me to prove them wrong.”
I rest my case. Dean, do you.