JOHANNESBURG – Getting Jeremy Brockie to fight for the “Blue Badge” right after SuperSport United turned down his request to join Mamelodi Sundowns before the start of this season was pretty simple for Eric Tinker.
The Matsatsantsa a Pitori coach just simply stroked his ego, challenging the New Zealander to net at least 20 goals in all competitions, before they could start talking about the possibility of him moving to Chloorkop in the coming season.
Not only did Tinkler challenge his goal-scoring prowess for this campaign; he also opened the striker’s eyes and mind to the possibility of him leaving the club as the club’s new all-time leading goal-scorer, after Abram Raselemane did so back in 2006 with his 57 goals before he went to join Bidvest Wits.
And that’s why Brockie’s head was in the right place when Tinkler fielded him in their MTN8 second leg semi-final against Maritzburg United following his return to the starting XI.
The striker hammered in two beautifully-taken headers to help his side reach the final with a 3-1 aggregate scoreline.
Tinker said he was pleased with how the striker responded to the whole transfer saga, though his desired move to go and join the reigning African champions did not happen despite him having shown the initial interest to do so.
“And that’s the reality of football,” Tinkler said.
“You saw this happen with (Liverpool’s) Philippe Coutinho’s (ambition to go and join FC Barcelona). You also saw it with (Arsenal’s Alexis) Sanchez (dream to go and join Manchester City) as well.
“If a move doesn’t happen, then you’ve got to be professional enough to continue with what you love the most (and fight for your current club you are playing for).
“And Jeremy is one of those. He loves the game. He loves scoring goals and is also a very good professional. And that made it easy for me (to convince him to continue fighting for the team).”
However, Tinkler also revealed that it was quite crucial for him to make sure that the striker felt valued following his arrival at the club as Matsatsantsa’s new coach, as failure to do so would have seen him fail to get the best performances out of the player.
“From the first day when I arrived here, I told him that he was our number one striker,” Tinkler said.
“I also added that come the end of the season, if he scores more than 20 goals (in all competitions), then we would sit down and discuss where his future lies for next season.
“If he does reach the 20-goal tally, then as his coach I will be a very happy man.
“He scored a total 18 goals in all competitions last season, and so 20 this season should be an attainable feat for him to reach.”
Asked how Brockie felt about being a mere six goals away from being the club’s new all-time leading goal-scorer, Tinkler said: “I don’t think he hardly thinks about that. He’s a natural goal-scorer.
“He’s somebody who always wants to score more goals (all the time). He also has a lot of self-belief and confidence within himself, and that’s key for any professional football player.
“Above all else, he remains a great professional.”