“I will be embarrassed to be among a group of players that went three seasons without winning a trophy for this big club,” he said this week ahead of tonight’s crucial clash at home against Bloemfontein Celtic in the Absa Premiership.
The Glamour Boys have nine games to close the five point lead on table-toppers Mamelodi Sundowns, who host Tshwane rivals SuperSport United earlier in the day.
Ekstein is determined to help Amakhosi end their trophy drought as much as his teammates – it’s the theme at Naturena to put an end to this barren spell.
“You can’t play for Chiefs and not win anything. For me it will be hard to even talk about my playing days if we don’t win anything. We have spoken amongst ourselves as players and reminded each other that we can’t carry on winning without trophies,” Ekstein added.
His role as an attacking midfielder has been reduced somewhat to an impact player following the arrival of Siphelele Ntshangase from Baroka FC, Leonardo Castro from Mamelodi Sundowns as well as the form of young Ryan Moon.
“As a player you must always be switched on and ready. Whoever is playing must take their chance and whenever you get a chance you must grab it also,” Eskstein said of his super-sub description.
“I am happy we were able to get the players we got (in the January transfer window) because they can help us achieve something.
“Ntshangase has brought changes. I don’t think we would be where we are without their contribution.”
Asked what it’s going to take to catch Sundowns, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Free State Stars on Wednesday night in their game in hand, Ekstein argued that he and his Chiefs teammates did not want to complicate things by focusing too much on their title rivals.
“I think it’s important to take it one game at a time,” he said.
“I watch all the games because I love football and sometimes you can be anxious when watching the opposition.
“But we have two trophies on offer (including the Nedbank Cup) and we have set a target to win both.
“We have to do well against Celtic to play our part.”
Ekstein got his breakthrough in the Chiefs team that clinched the championship under Stuart Baxter in 2015, just months before Steve Komphela took over as his replacement.
But the player, although he celebrated with his teammates when they lifted the trophy on the last day of that campaign, only made two league appearances as a substitute when the title was all but won.
Should Chiefs go all the way this year, he will feel he’s made a meaningful contribution.
“We owe the team a trophy,” he said.
“It’s not nice to play without winning anything for Chiefs. We are in a good position currently and I want to promise that we are going to win something.”
That’s a huge undertaking.