IT IS RELATIVELY easy to be overwhelmed by the pressure from the “boo boys” if you are not mentally and emotionally strong, especially when you are playing for a club like Kaizer Chiefs.
But that doesn’t apply to you if your name is Bernard Parker, someone who has worn his heart on his sleeve since joining Amakhosi during the 2011/12 season from Dutch-based side Twente FC.
“I am a seasoned campaigner and a serious guy that’s taking his work seriously.
“I focus on positives rather than negatives. I don’t read comments and stuff but I focus on myself every day – and try to do my best for the team and club,” he said.
In the past few seasons, at least since the chopping and changing of coaches at the club, Parker has come under scrutiny from the Amakhosi faithful, who mostly deemed him not worthy to don the jersey of the club.
The 34-year-old has, however, taken all that on the chin, continuing to win the coaches selection week-in and week-out.
Last season, as Chiefs triggered a false alarm of being champions-elect, coach Ernst Middendorp said Parker was the technical team’s mouthpiece on the pitch.
And, the German coach also sang Parker’s praises for his tactical acumen, having been able to apply himself to every position – wing-back or central attacking midfielder – that he had to fill on that particular day.
“Since I joined Kaizer Chiefs 10 years ago, I’ve always added my value to the team.
“I’ve not always been the favourite but I’ve always been a team player and put value into the team with my workrate, versatility and intelligence,” Parker explained.
“Most of the people don’t see that.
“But people who know the game and coaches that have coached at the highest level – past and present – can identify quality between two players and that. And who adds more value to the team.”
Parker’s naysayers may have followed him into the new era under coach Gavin Hunt, who took over the reins from Middendorp, but it appears that the 56-year-old mentor is already a fan-favourite for ‘Die Hond’ after playing him in his usual position in his first game in charge.
“I’m playing in my familiar role – No 10 – which I’ve been playing throughout my career, supplying and linking the play between midfield and attack.
“It’s been working. But not (only) for me but for the other guys as well because the coach wants everyone to play to their strengths,” Parker said.
With Hunt having got his campaign up and running from the outset as Chiefs’ commander in chief, defeating Maritzburg United 2-1 to progress to MTN8 semi-finals – where his charges will meet nemesis Orlando Pirates, he’ll be hoping to continue with the momentum in their Premiership campaign opener on Saturday.
Amakhosi will cross paths with champions Mamelodi Sundowns at home, FNB Stadium (3:30pm kick-off) hoping to avenge their loss in the bio bubble – which played a key role in them losing their grip on the Premiership race on the final day of the season.
“The team is definitely looking more confident after the win (over Maritzburg).
“We’ve shown that we have quality in the team; everybody wants to impress the coach,” said Parker, who’s also thrilled about the return of Lebogang Manyama and Willard Katsande from suspension.
“The coach’s energy has definitely transferred to the team. The team is looking strong and confident.
“Going into the weekend’s match, we all want to make sure that we give 100 percent.”