Orlando Pirates midfielder Miguel Timm was viewed with suspicion when he was signed from Marumo Gallants in July and was met with a lukewarm reception at the Buccaneers in his first few games.
The late bloomer’s performances saw him become a midfield ever-present under Spanish coach Jose Riveiro.
Slowly the 30-year-old’s work-rate, ability to provide himself as an option to receive a pass as a link-man, eye to slip a pass into dangerous pockets and especially his crunching tackles in midfield have seen him win over “The Ghost”, as Bucs’ black and white-clad supporters are known.
The newfound love affair was consummated when Timm dedicated the MTN8 trophy Pirates won on Saturday to the club’s supporters, who he says use their last hard-earned cash to support the team.
As Timm’s performances have won over the fans, those in the stands have taken to chanting the midfielder’s name.
Bucs fans emit the low-toned hum that has become known in SA football — and once was mistaken for booing by the foreign press when used for Bafana Bafana’s Matthew Booth at the 2009 Confederation Cup — of “Tiimmmmm” whenever Bucs’ new player launches into a trademark crunching tackle to win the ball.
Timm said Bucs’ fans were vital in helping the team defeat AmaZulu and lift the top eight trophy for the 11th time in Durban in the Soweto giants’ 85th anniversary season.
Something of a journeyman, who often filled the role of bit-part player off the bench at clubs including Bidvest Wits, Cape Town City, Mpumalanga Black Aces and Phoenix Rising in the US second-tier, Timm enjoyed one of his best seasons helping Gallants survive relegation and reach a Nedbank Cup final last season.
While experience plays some role, he also credits going up another gear since his arrival at Bucs, partly to the energy that comes from playing in front of a passionate, and increasingly appreciative, support base.
After thwarting many of AmaZulu’s attacks on Saturday, especially in a second half that the midfielder admitted was tough for Bucs, Timm said: “I’m playing for a big team and we’re all aware of that as players.
“We know a lot of people support the team. And I take that personally as a responsibility to make people happy. They spend their money, people are working from 8am to 5pm but I’m working two hours a day. The least I can do is give my all.
“This is just to thank to them for spending their last monies. They could be doing something else with it but instead choose to come and get some happiness. I take that as a responsibility to give them joy.”
On Pirates’ supporters taking to chanting his name, Timm said: “I can hear it in the background, but I’m focused on what I’m doing.
“All these emotions overflow after the game. I remember everything [afterwards] — all the feelings, especially when I’m tired. I think the fans should know that they give me the extra push and energy I need, and I try to pass it on to my teammates to keep going.”
Timm said it was important for Bucs to bounce back and win a trophy a week after they lost 1-0 to Kaizer Chiefs in the league. Timm did not feature in the Soweto derby as Bucs’ technical team feared he may earn a yellow card that would have ruled him out of the final.
“It’s a team sport and I feel we were just unfortunate on the day,” Timm said about the defeat to Chiefs.
“All of us in the midfield have different strengths, maybe my strength was needed in the derby — I don’t know because I didn’t play and I won’t know until I play again.
“But I think we were not our best in general. I’m just happy to contribute in the final and be back in the team to help us get this victory. It’s not about me, I’m just happy for all of the guys.”
Timm admitted Pirates came under severe pressure from Usuthu in the second half on Saturday but said he was happy they didn’t crack and allow the Durban team to equalise after Monnapule Saleng’’s exquisite free-kick gave Bucs a 25th-minute lead.
“Maybe we started giving the ball away a bit easy because we were thinking about the lead. It’s a final and football doesn’t have to be pretty. We played a super first half. In the second half we showed guts, showed discipline and effort. All the things we did, you can’t work on them at training. It needs to come from within and that’s what we did.”
Timm revealed that one of the reasons Bucs are playing better this season is because the club environment under coach Jose Riveiro is one that allows the players to express themselves and each plays his normal game.
“We’re allowed to be ourselves. We don’t have to pretend to fit in,” Timm said.
“We accept each other as we are, with our flaws. We’re not perfect and we’re there to lift each other. Whether you’re not having a great game and whether you’re making mistakes, we’re not here to make it worse.
“It’s a team sport and I think we’ve realised that and it works in our favour all the time. When we seem like we’re down, and out we always come back and fight.”