JOHANNESBURG - Not giving “two sh#ts” about what critics think about him is what helped Morgan Gould turn a club switch that was meant to be his exit from the game into a move that saw him revive his career for club and country.
The 34-year-old’s career looked dead when he left Kaizer Chiefs last year after injuries once again tormented him. But Gould turned that tragedy to triumph at SuperSport United, returning to the national team setup and is one match away from winning his second trophy this year after lifting the Nedbank Cup in May. United have to get past Cape Town City at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday at 7pm in the MTN8 final.
“I have gone through things that would make some people commit suicide,” an honest and animated Gould, said. “I had to deal with so many injuries, missed out on the Afcon (Africa Cup of Nations) and was written off. But I am still here because I have a positive mind-set.
“I am grateful for the support my family and friends gave me. Becoming a dad changed me. I had to become a good role model and a good husband. I have experienced things that are overwhelming, but the love and support those close to me gave me helped me go through that.”
Gould also had to deal with the perception that once you go past 30, you’re done. Former SuperSport coach Stuart Baxter had to convince the club’s board to sign Reneilwe Letsholonyane as he is another player who has passed the 30-mark. But players like Gould and Letsholonyane bring more than their performance on the field, their wealth of experience helps players like Denwin Farmer and Teboho Mokoena improve as the older heads impart advice the youngsters can relate to - coming from people they aspire to be like.
“This thinking that once you reach 30 you are useless doesn’t take a lot of things into consideration,” Gould said. “There are players who are late bloomers. Now if a player starts his professional career at 26, you tell me that player only has four good years to offer? No. That can’t be.
"But that’s how we have been conditioned because of the stories you guys write. I want to be a part of the group that changes things. Players like myself, Yeye and Shabba (Siphiwe Tshabalala) still have a lot to offer to the game because of how well we have taken care of our bodies.”
SuperSport owe much of their success, especially in knockout competitions, to how they have managed to balance experience with one of the best development structures in the country. That will be put to the test in Durban. The experienced players will need to bring calm heads in a pressure-filled environment while the young players have to come up with the legs to push the team all the way against a hungry side looking to give Benni McCarthy his first trophy as a head coach.
“I am a realist, I don’t give two sh#ts about what people say or write about me,” Gould said. “I have a thick skin. That negativity drives me instead of killing me. Don’t judge me on my age, judge me on what I bring.”