Dillon Sheppard has always tried to shy away from the spotlight. Even during his playing days he was not one of those players who would be all over newspapers and magazines.
He carries the same persona at Kaizer Chiefs where he is the assistant to coach Arthur Zwane. Sheppard came to Chiefs as Gavin Hunt’s sidekick and when Hunt was sent packing from Naturena, it was expected that Sheppard would also be released.
But he has stayed and was assistant to Stuart Baxter and now to Zwane who he says they have a long relationship that started outside of Naturena.
“We go far back (with Zwane),” says Sheppy, as Sheppard is known in football circles. “We played against each other, we played together in the national team and coached in the reserve leagues at the same time. We then got a chance to work together as assistants and now we have the opportunity to steer the ship,” he adds.
“We are excited about that. We know the challenges and we have a huge journey ahead. When you ask about pressure, I mean I was lucky enough that in my playing days I played for teams that had pressures either because of trying to avoid relegation or win the league. Those two different kinds of pressure that I picked up during my playing career.
“Yes, coaching is different because when the players step over the white lines (onto the field) then your control is limited while when you are a player you deal with the pressure (of the game) yourself.
“But it is a huge opportunity and we have the support from management and they have shown faith and belief in us.”
With Chiefs’ dry spell now at eight years, the pressure is already there for Zwane and his technical team to deliver, and Sheppard is fully aware of this.
“If you start looking backwards that’s going to be a problem right there… We are concentrating on what is ahead for us,” he says of the club’s longest dry run. “Getting the right players and having a proper preseason is what we are now looking at. We are looking at the new start, we will have six weeks of preparation and then we will have the MTN8 with which we are looking for a good start.
“That is where you have to look at rather than what has happened before. We know the pressure and we know that if we don’t start well then the pressure will already be there. It is a big club with huge expectations.”