Durban Living Legend – Clive William Barker

Clive William Barker nicknamed “The Dog” was born on the 23rd June 1944 in Durban. He has been hailed as the most successful coach in the South African National soccer team Bafana Bafana’s history. Clive Barker’s ceaseless optimism and superb motivational ability can be credited for bringing the beleaguered national soccer squad to victory in the African Nations’ Cup in 1996.

Few will forget the magical moment when team captain Neil Tovey lifted the trophy, on presentation from former President Mandela, to a thunderous roar from the 90 000 emotional supporters. A roar that reverberated through the packed FNB stadium in the early evening of February 3, 1996.

When Barker joined Bafana as coach in April 1996, he promised victory for the side. Skeptics laughed at his optimism – the team had been floundering for some time. But the feisty Barker proved his detractors wrong by infusing in the national squad a sense of purpose that saw them unbeaten in 10 qualifying matches ahead of selection for the African Nations’ Cup finals.

After winning the Africa Cup and qualifying for the World Cup series, Bafana Bafana embarked on a series of international matches and lost – and kept losing. Throughout, Barker remained calm and quietly optimistic. At home, though, there was growing dissatisfaction with his performance. Fans expressed unhappiness at his reluctance to bring new young blood to the team. After a disastrous showing in Saudi Arabia, Barker called a press conference and resigned.

Clive Barker
Clive Barker

Career of Clive Barker

Clive Barker’s illustrious career in soccer began in 1962 when he joined Durban City at age 18. From 1963-1967 Barker played for Durban United but retired from soccer at the age of 23 due to ligament and cartilage problems. His passion for the game saw him taking up coaching the amateur side Fynlands for the Natal Football Association in 1973. In 1974, Barker took charge of the Indian XI that participated in the 1974 South African Games. That same year Barker joined Amazulu as head coach. In 1976 he became head coach of Pinetown Celtic in the National Football League (Second Division), winning the championship in his first year in charge. Clive returned to amateur football when he joined Juventus from 78-81.

Between 1981-83 Clive Barker returned to his former team Durban City as coach. He helped the team win the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) titles in 1982 and 1983. From 1984-1985 Clive joined Durban Bush Bucks and led them to win the inaugural National Soccer League title a year after joining the team. In 1986-1987 he joined Amazulu but left the club one year later. He returned to amateur football to coach Yellowwood Park, Durban, in 1988-89.

He rejoined Amazulu in 1991 and helped Amazulu win their first ever Coca-Cola Cup trophy, beating favourites Kaizer Chiefs 3-1 in the final, in 1992. In 1994 he was appointed the South African national team coach. On February 3, 1996 South Africa won the African Nations’ Cup trophy beating Tunisia 2-0 in the final. Clive gave his winner’s medal to former president Nelson Mandela. On August 16, 1997 Clive Barker helped South Africa qualify for their first ever World Cup finals beating Congo 1-0. On December 17, 1997, Clive was involved in his last game as the South African national team head coach. Bafana Bafana lost 4-3 to Uruguay in the Confederation Cup in Saudi Arabia. He was replaced by Jomo Sono. For the 1998-1999 season Clive returned to Amazulu and lost in his first game against Kaizer Chiefs. The club was relegated for the same season.

Clive then joined the Cape side Santos for the 1999-2000 season, helping Santos reach their first ever Bob Save Super Bowl final by beating Moroka Swallows. In 2003-04 Clive returned to Zulu Royals but failed to save the club from relegation before joining Manning Rangers. In March 2005 Clive returned to coach Santos, who he led to the Bob Save Super Bowl victory.

Clive Barker is currently the Director of Coaching and Development with Usuthu (Amazulu FC).

(Profile adapted and courtesy of Kickoff

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