JOHANNESBURG: Ahead of the start of the 2017-18 PSL season, we will profile captains of the five teams we believe are serious challengers for the league title. In our third feature, we focus on SuperSport United skipper Dean Furman.
It can’t be a coincidence that every coach he’s worked under since earning his first Bafana Bafana cap in a friendly against Brazil in 2012 has at one point decided Furman should lead the team. The former Doncaster Rovers midfielder is a natural leader and, although he is often not the best player on the pitch, his commitment and passion is second to none.
Furman proved to Gordon Igesund and his national team successor Shakes Mashaba that he was captain material. At club level Stuart Baxter didn’t strip him of the armband when he arrived and now Eric Tinkler, the new coach at Matsatsantsa, has followed suit.
And he’s earned it if you closely observe his behaviour on and off the pitch. Furman always knows what to say and when to say it. His words are often quite inspiring and he is capable of lifting a gloomy dressing-room. Of course all of this is also complemented by his playing style - aggressive, passionate and with that never-say-die attitude.
Route to captaincy
Furman seemed the obvious choice for then coach Igesund, who’d left his job as Bafana coach to move to Pretoria prior to the midfielder signing for SuperSport, and replaced the bizarre decision that had been taken to make winger Thuso Phala captain.
Having already been in a similar role on the international stage, Furman was hardly taken out of his comfort zone - taking on the task with broad shoulders and hitting the ground running.
In this position, the 29-year-old has been a prime example of leadership and that is why it would be difficult for any coach to look elsewhere for a captain at SuperSport, even with veterans like Morgan Gould, Clayton Daniels and Reneilwe "Yeye" Letsholonyane.
Furman also has an interesting background. He started out in the Chelsea youth ranks, where he unfortunately could not crack it into the first-team and had to look for game time elsewhere.
There’s uniqueness about Furman’s playing style and he’s tweaked it somewhat over the past few seasons he has been at SuperSport.
He can often come across as a typical defensive midfielder who’s job is to protect the back four and sweep up in the centre of the pitch, allowing the attackers to then finish the job. But what he lacks in creativity, Furman more than makes up for it with his energy and what Baxter recently described as a “warrior mentality”.
There's nothing fancy about the way he plays - he simply gets the job done and fans, as well as coaches, appreciate that and duly reward him for it.
“I only managed to score one goal last season and I honestly think that is not good enough. That is an area in my game that I am trying to work on and improve. I have got to get more goals in this campaign,” Furman said last week, before SuperSport knocked Kaizer Chiefs out of the MTN8 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Perfect start to the season with another great win in Durban & into the semi's of the #MTN8 -Incredible atmosphere in the stadium as always🔵
It’s likely that he will be afforded plenty opportunities to work on that part of his game considering the expansive football Matsatsantsa will play under Tinkler, and the fact that Furman is highly reliable.
Last season the midfielder played 37 games in all domestic competitions. Add the Caf Confederation Cup matches to that and it’s over 40 fixtures that he was involved in - making an impact, not just adding the numbers.
Furman’s effect is quite literally on and off the pitch. It’s likely that SuperSport can plug the gap in his absence due to injury or should he leave the club in the future.
He is a gatherer and doesn’t strike you as someone who is afraid to be a player representative in case things get a bit sticky.
It’s possible that he bridges the gap between coach and players at SuperSport and we know for a fact he does that at Bafana because Baxter has said as much.