JOHANNESBURG – When Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter on Monday names his squad for the back-to-back 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Cape Verde, there will be one unlikely hopeful desperate to get the nod.
Morgan Gould, the 34-year-old SuperSport United defender, says he’s still relishing a national team call-up – four years on since he was last in the Bafana colours.
“I don’t want to lie,” he says. “Regardless of my age, it would put a big smile on my face. As a person that gives back to the community, I want to show those kids that people can write you off, but you can write your own book. You can determine your own goals and you are the only one that can make it happen.
“For me it would be awesome. People might moan about my age, but it would be awesome for me to wear the jersey again or just to be called up. If it does come, I’d grab it with all fours.”
This desire to be considered by Baxter hasn’t just sprung out of nowhere.
Gould has been a prime example of longevity in the Premier Soccer League and enters his 16th season in top-flight football when SuperSport take on city rivals Mamelodi Sundowns in the Tshwane derby this afternoon to open their 2017/18 campaign at the Lucas Moripe Stadium.
“I’ve kept it simple to be honest,” says Gould, before adding why he thinks his national team selection would be purely based on merit.
The defender was, after all, recently crowned the club’s Player of the Season.
“Listen, if we are being honest, football is all about experience and energy. If you can balance those two things you are bound to achieve a lot of things. I want to show the next kid it does happen. I want to show them they need to work harder and smarter.
“In SA if you are 30, you are coming to the end of your career, but look at ‘Yeye’ (teammate Reneilwe Letsholonyane, who is 35), he is flying. He does it better than I do, but I can draw strength from him.”
Gould rolled back the years and showed the kind of consistent performance that had all but guaranteed him a place in the 2010 World Cup squad on home soil until he missed out because of injury, and Baxter has been flirting with the idea of bringing him out of the cold.
But the Bafana mentor fears the public backlash of including a 34-year-old, who’s probably had his fair share of caps (27 in Gould’s case caps), when he’s expected to be winning crucial games while building for the future at the same time.
Gould’s going to carry on, though, the same way he did when Kaizer Chiefs dumped him in July last year during a massive clear-out at Naturena.
“I am trying to enjoy the time I have in football because it doesn’t last forever. I don’t want to reflect 10 years down the line and wish I could have done this or that,” he says.
“I was signed by SuperSport as back-up. For me to put pen to paper meant something to me, especially at a club where I had done well before (two league titles prior to moving to Kaizer Chiefs).
“There are no guarantees in football and loyalty doesn’t pay the bills. They didn’t take me for loyalty’s sake, but because they saw it fit that I would be back-up for the other guys. It was a slap on the wrist, but I hit the ground running and fortunately it worked out pretty good. Not great, but good.
“The past season was very emotional for me. I’ve had a lot of setbacks, missing out on the World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations, but I have come through mud and stones.
“I really applaud people that have played more than 10 years in this game and are still giving their best.”