Hunt may have shifted from Chiefs, but Dillon Sheppard remains grateful for his help

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Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach Dillon Sheppard.
Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach Dillon Sheppard.
Kaizer Chiefs
  • Dillon Sheppard praised Gavin Hunt for the role he's played in his coaching and playing development.
  • Hunt gave Sheppard his debut at Seven Stars and also introduced him to coaching at Bidvest Wits.
  • Sheppard will be Arthur Zwane's assistant at Kaizer Chiefs.

Gavin Hunt may have had quite the indifferent stay at Kaizer Chiefs, but their newly appointed assistant coach Dillon Sheppard is grateful for the career interventions Hunt made in his life.

Sheppard came to Chiefs as one of Hunt's assistants and has stayed on as Arthur Zwane's assistant. The duo also assisted Stuart Baxter until his recent departure.

The 43-year-old who represented Bafana Bafana 32 times said Hunt ensured his path into senior coaching was going to be a seamless one.

"Gavin gave my debut at Seven Stars when I was 18 and I played 25 games in my first season," Sheppard said.

"He told me I'll play in the next five games, regardless of what I do and what will happen. He played a huge role in my playing and coaching.

"He also helped me in coaching and when I was about to retire, he was the one who pushed me into coaching and that's where it started.

"I assisted him here. Some things work and some don't in football and that's that."

Sheppard said the coaching seed was planted in 2007 after his horrible broken leg when he came off second best in a tackle with Free State Stars defender James Matola in a Telkom Knockout Cup semi-final.

Sheppard, who was playing for Mamelodi Sundowns at the time, said the injury made him reassess his career options post-retirement.

"It came to me when I broke my leg when I was still 28 and I was looking forward to a World Cup that never came," Sheppard said.

"I realised how hard it was just to get to 60 percent fitness and that if I played another 10 years, I would have been very blessed.

"I thought from that moment on, soccer can be taken away from you very quickly, but the passion remained."

When Sheppard joined Hunt in the move to Chiefs, the glamour club from Phefeni was in the midst of a transfer ban.

That set them back in the transfer market as the dissolution of Bidvest Wits meant the players from the club went elsewhere instead of Chiefs.

Chiefs haven't been aggressive in the transfer market, but Sheppard has identified the significance of recruiting smartly.

"Recruitment is going to be very important. When we talk about Kaizer Chiefs, we talk about playing style and identity," Sheppard said.

"There are lots of players that we get in, but you're also not going to be able to release 17 to 18 players in one go.

"There is a process and our management is dealing with that. We're not off and every day is a working day."

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