With two games behind him in his most recent national team call up, South African soccer star Dean Furman has thus far fully endeared himself to fans. With a Man of the Match performance versus Angola last week and a solid outing in a 2-2 draw against Morocco on Sunday that propelled the squad to the next round of the Africa Cup of Nations Tournament, it’s not hard to see why.
“Feisty Furman wins the hearts of Bafana fans,” screamed a headline in South Africa’s Sunday Tribune using the moniker for the national team. “Furman Bafana’s Foreman” wrote the Times of South Africa.
Furman, who is Jewish, was somewhat of an unknown entity in Africa before his first call up in September, as he spent most of his youth in England. Now the 24-year-old is making a name for himself among South African football fans and Jews in the country. One blogger for Talk Radio 702 said the station spent the week taking calls from many Jewish listeners calling in claiming a connection to the star.
For a country obsessed with race, Furman’s skin color and religion could be a big deal, but so far he’s approached his role on the team like any other player would.
“It’s not something I think about at all when I’m out there,” Furman said, speaking with The Algemeiner of his Judaism. “It’s not even something that comes into my mind. It’s just about playing football and trying to do the best that I can for my team. I put it aside, put my head down and just get on with the job.”
Furman plays for the English side Oldham in the country’s third tier, but has chosen to represent his country in recent weeks, skipping out on several club matches.
“When your country comes calling it’s very hard for me to turn it down. I’m very proud to be involved in national sport and I want to get as many caps as possible, ” Furman told The Algemeiner.
As for the future, Furman is looking no further than Saturday, when South Africa plays Mali. “We’re excited for the game. It’ll be tough but we’re looking to continue progressing through the tournament.”