Buckley eyes silverware

2012-09-08 00:00

HE’S played 72 matches for Bafana Bafana, but at 34 years old, Maritzburg United’s Delron Buckley is still a PSL rookie. After leaving South Africa for what would be a successful European career at the age of just 16, Buckley returned to his homeland at the start of this season after being persuaded to join the Team of Choice by coach Ernst Middendorp.

And just three games into the new campaign, Buckley is flying. He set up the first of United’s two goals in their win against Ama­Zulu before scoring both in last weekend’s victory at Mamelodi Sundowns.

Living with his German wife Raphaela and their three daughters in Hillcrest, Buckley says he has adjusted well to life back home.

“I am a Durban boy and my family is all still there so we’re nicely placed,” the left-footed midfield maestro told Weekend Witness yesterday. “We were both a little nervous about the move back but Raphaela has started to meet new people and she’s really enjoying it.”

Buckley jokes that while he missed his family the most during his time in Europe, he is no longer a fan of mom’s home-cooked meals.

“It’s funny but my diet has changed so much that I actually can’t eat that stuff anymore,” he said. “If I try and eat a curry, I can’t. My body just isn’t used to it anymore and I can’t eat spicy foods — maybe once I’ve stopped playing.”

Speaking of his side’s impressive start to the season, Buckley is full of optimism.

“I think if we keep our feet on the ground then we can finish quite high in the league, certainly better than we did last season,” he said, adding that this Friday’s fixture at home to Free State Stars would be a stern test of the quality within the squad.

With Benni McCarthy having been recalled to coach Gordon Igesund’s Bafana squad for last night’s friendly against Brazil, Buckley said that he would relish the chance to put the national jersey back on.

“I am in good shape and I feel good,” he said. “If Gordon [Igesund] phoned me and asked me to play I wouldn’t hesitate. I’ve always loved playing for my country and I’ve always put them first.”

Buckley’s last international cap came in 2007.

With United’s new-look side this season appearing to be one of the best that Maritzburg has seen in recent times, Buckley has eyed the Telkom Knockout and Nedbank Cup tournaments as possibilities for silverware this season.

“I hate to lose,” he said. “I’ve always said that before I stop playing in South Africa I want to hold a trophy.”

• sport@witness.co.za

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