D.N : Congratulations on being nominated as Manning Rangers Player of the Year Grant, was this your first such award?
GRANT JOHNSON :Thanks, and no it was'nt - I won the award during the 1996/97 season as well.
D.N : Apart from being nominated as one of KICKOffs Most Consistent Players of the season (Grant came in at No. 7 on the
poll) and being included as the first choice goalkeeper for the PSL XI - your exclusion from the national
setup still baffles many. How does this affect you?
GRANT JOHNSON : Ag, I would be lying if I said it did'nt - but it did, and it was a terrible disappointment not to even feature in any of numerous internationals played last season but I've gotten over that now and all I want to do now is concentrate on helping the club win as many trophies as possible.
D.N : Your height has been touted as one possible reason for not being elevated to Bafana Bafana. And another that
you are'nt dominant in your box - relying instead to stay on your line rather than come out and intercept crosses.
Your views on these critiscisms ?
GRANT JOHNSON : I totally disagree with that assesment. John Tlale of Sundowns is probably only an inch taller than I am yet he is the No. 3 ... so that dispels any notions about height. As to regard to not coming out, I feel that I'm more comfortable if I stay on my line and rely on my agility to make saves.
D.N : You have been training with national goalkeeping coach Deshi Bhaktawar - did you feel that certain aspects
of your game needed improvement ?
GRANT JOHNSON : Not really, I just felt that I needed specialist training. At Rangers, we donot have a goalkeeping coach and the goalkeepers usually go to one side and train on their own - which is not very conducive at times, because, as a player, you always need to be improving. With Deshi I work more on my reflex saves and speed off the mark - which comes in very handy in tight situations.
D.N : If you were to describe last season in two words ... would "terrible disappointment" come to mind first ?
GRANT JOHNSON : No, definately not - I think we learnt a lot from last season in terms of experience, we ventured into Africa for the first time and performed really well and I think more importantly, we've experienced continental competition and playing against teams with a different style of football.
D.N : You were kept out of the starting XI for a number of games in the closing stages of the season by Craig
Mentz ... was this due to a lapse in form or to that mis-kick against Vaal Professionals ?
GRANT JOHNSON : No, it had nothing to do with that kick. I had a slight muscle strain and Craig took the lineup which he kept as his own for a number of games with good performances until I was able to reclaim it.
D.N : Speaking of which, you and Craig seem to have the most friendliest rivalry that I have ever seen, is there
a secret to this ?
GRANT JOHNSON : Craig and I have been together for a number of years, from youth level at club to when we represented Natal at high school level as well. So we know each other really well, I guess that our friendship if anything is the recipe for a good clean rivalry.
D.N : You seem to be a silent goalkeeper with not much to say - or dont the cameras capture everything ?
GRANT JOHNSON : Well, I'm pretty vocal when my defenders mess up a little or when I'm trying to issue out instructions - but otherwise I save most of it till then.
D.N : Commuting from Johannesburg to Durban for games must be pretty hectic. How do you motivate
and prepare yourself for each game with such a tough schedule - though probably, more importantly, how
do you manage to maintain those silent channels of communication that is a neccesity between a goalie and
his defence ?
GRANT JOHNSON : It is a bit rough commuting but I try and prepare as best as possible. I leave at least a day or two before the game so that I can prepare and train with the team at least once before the match. The regular centrebacks Mark Davies and Bradley Muir and I have been at the club together for quite a while so we understand and know each others game - so that is always a plus.
D.N : How do you rate your No. 2 at Rangers this year, Kuben Naidoo ?
GRANT JOHNSON : He's a lad with a bright future - he's obviously a bit inexperienced at this level as yet, but I am sure that he will come good and pull through.
D.N : Goalkeepers probably try and model themselves on other goalkeepers - if you were given a choice between
a fiery Peter Schmeichel, flamboyant Rene Higuita or silent David Seamen, who would you choose ?
GRANT JOHNSON : I think I'd go for the silent David Seamen - he does things simply and yet extremely effectively and without any fuss.