Former Kaizer Chiefs captain Bernard Parker has challenged critics to judge veteran South African footballers on performance and not on age.
Parker recently joined TS Galaxy on a two-year contract with the veteran attacker, stating that the club’s owner Tim Sukazi was surprised that he was clubless as he is “valuable and a good player”.
The 36-year-old moved to the Rockets after parting ways with Chiefs, where he spent 11 years. The Soweto giants opted against renewing his contract when it expired in June as they are rebuilding under Arthur Zwane with much younger players.
Parker, a former Bafana Bafana international with European football experience, has challenged critics to judge older South African players on performances rather than their age.
“I believe that we are quick to judge with age, but I think it's only fair if you can be judged on your performance than your age,” Parker told Galaxy’s media department at the training fields in Johannesburg.
“In Europe, players are judged on their performance and what they bring to the club and to football and the other players that are coming through they are also inspired by the senior players as well, and they also have good guidance by the senior players, so as you can see all across Europe in the big teams the older players are very influential and play a vital role.
“I am talking about players who are 35 plus, your Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, I mean Zlatan came to AC Milan and helped them win the league after 20 years, and Thiago Silva joined Chelsea, and he was a key factor in the club winning the Champions League, I can mention a whole lot more, your Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Buffon, all these greats, they appreciate and embrace their greatness,” added Parker.
The experienced campaigner went on to say that senior players can play an important role in integrating youngsters into the professional setup to help them grow and mature.
“I think we just rush to throw in young talent, and they play without any guidance, and the next thing they don’t grow, and three years down the line they disappear, and it is not their fault,” he said.
“We need to build properly with maturity, and they can only mature faster under senior leadership, so I think we should be judged on our performance. I am not only talking about me or for myself; I’m talking about my fellow brother; we can speak of Happy Jele, Elias Pelembe at Royal AM, and Lindokuhle Mbatha here at Galaxy.
“If we want our youngsters to be elite players on the international level because our national team is not doing well, we need senior players. I’m still an elite player because I can be judged on my performance,” concluded Parker, who was won several trophies in his career.
View the players that have left Chiefs.