New arrival Dean Furman brings with him a wealth of experience as he joins the Blues on a season-long deal, having started his career with two of the biggest clubs in the world, before making his mark in the Championship and League One, with a fascinating and extremely five-year spell in South Africa to throw into the mix.
With over 50 international caps to his name, and a host of trophy winning medals from his time with SuperSport United, he returns to England determined to pick up where he left off, this time by doing his bit here at Brunton Park with Chris Beech’s new-look team.
Speaking about his next challenge this week, he said: “I’ve been here for a couple of weeks now and I’ve really enjoyed it.
“The gaffer invited me up to come and train so he could have a look at me, and I’m pleased that after training and the game at Wigan he’s seen qualities in me that I can add to the squad, and he’s offered me a contract.
“I’ve been away in South Africa for the last five years and I did feel a little bit like I was out of sight, out of mind type thing. The gaffer remembered me playing for Oldham and Doncaster before I went over there, and he spoke to my agent and said he wanted to have a look at me. I’m very grateful that he let me come up to train with the lads, and I’m delighted to get it all signed.”
The process of going on trial is never an easy one for any player, with this particular circumstance affected further by the delayed start to the season and the small matter of the player relocating from half way around the world.
“I think when you come in on trial you have to hit the ground running,” he commented. “There’s no point coming in and being off the pace. Once we were allowed outside during lockdown I was out running to make sure that when I got the opportunity I was as fit as possible.
“This wasn’t my only option, but things are tough out there. The virus has taken its toll on the economy and football is included in that, so it’s a very tough time to be a free agent and looking for a club at the moment.
“There were options and I had bits of interest here and there, but interest is nothing. It was about getting the opportunity to come in and show what I’m about to earn a contract offer. Interest is one thing, but getting that offer is a very different thing altogether.
“It’s never nice being on trial. You’re always wondering if the manager is watching you. If one slips under your foot or you give the ball away you look around and check whether he saw it or not.
“If you put one into the top corner you turn around and hope he’s been watching you, so you’re always on edge a little bit. It’s about trying to be yourself and showing what you’re all about on the pitch because the manager wants to see what you can add to his squad.
“You’ve got to try and relax into it as quickly as possible, which isn’t easy. It’s like being the new kid at school. You’ve just got to settle into your environment as quickly as you can because you don’t know how long you’ll get to impress.”
And getting the chance to play in a friendly did no harm at all.
“I really enjoyed the Wigan game and I thought we played really well against a decent Wigan side,” he told us. “I know they’re going through some of their own issues, but they put out a very experienced side and it was a good test for us.
“I was really impressed with how we played on the day, it felt as if we could score every time we went forward and we were very solid at the back. For a player coming in, it was an exciting game to be involved in because the team is looking really good.
“I had to try and play the game as if I’d been here for a few years because if you go into your shell you can’t express yourself and show the manager what you’re about, which means it doesn’t lead to a contract.”
With the contract crossed and dotted, we wondered if his spell abroad had meant that he was coming into a dressing room packed with unfamiliar faces.
“I knew Lewis Alessandra from back in the day at Oldham, and he lives nearby which means we’ll be able to travel up together when everything settles down,” he explained. “Once you get into a dressing room and start speaking to lads there’s always someone who knows someone with a connection somewhere. It never takes very long to settle into that sort of environment.
“Collectively there are some big aspirations this season. We’re maybe not fancied by the bookies and people on the outside, but I think we’ve got a really young and hungry squad. If the pre-season performances are anything to go by, I think if we have a relatively injury-free season we can upset a few teams and maybe those bookies.
“We’re quietly confident within the dressing room. Everybody saw what Wycombe achieved last season when no one expected them to, so hopefully we can have a really good go at it this season.”
But is Brunton Park a stadium he knows much about?
“I’ve got a few interesting memories from playing here,” he said. “That includes a last-minute equaliser Carlisle scored when I was playing for Oldham, which still doesn’t sit well, even though it was probably 10 years ago now! I still remember it like it was only yesterday.
“It was always a tough place to come to and that’s something the boys are talking about now. We have to make this a fortress this season. I know every team says that, but we have to work hard to make this a place teams don’t want to come to.
“I just hope we can get the fans back in before long because it will be very strange playing league football without supporters here. I do remember the fans behind the goal sucking the ball into the net, and having to go over to the away fans and we were gutted at the end of it.
“I know what this place can be like, there can be a great atmosphere here, and hopefully the fans will be back soon and we can show them some good football out on the pitch.”
“All I ever want is to be successful, whichever club I’m at,” he added. “I love playing football. I want to win. If I lose in training, I’m miserable, so that’s inside me and that’ll be inside me for as long as I’m kicking a football, and probably after.
“I still feel I have a lot to offer and I’m hoping very much that I can make an impact here this season. As for the team, why not say it - we want to go up. We want to push on and get promoted, and I don’t think that would be the wrong thing to say.
“I’m sure if you ask any of the lads they’ll tell you that’s where we want to be this season. I think we’ve put together an exciting young squad that on the basis of what I’ve seen should be able to challenge if we’re all on form and we have a relatively injury free season.
“There’s no point being here if we don’t want to challenge for the top honour, so hopefully we’re going to have a very good season, and I can’t wait to get started.”
In the second part of our interview with Dean Furman, on the official website on Sunday morning, we take a look at a career which took him from Chelsea to Rangers as a youngster, and eventually to the South African Premier League where the medals and trophies flowed, and the caps for his country continued to pile up.
Click HERE to watch an interview with Dean Furman on iFollow United now.
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