As Dylan Kerr sat behind his desk piecing together what was supposed to be one of the most intriguing and ambitious teams of the KPL, the writing was on the wall for him- “It’s either you win the trophy or go!” This was the message from Gor Mahia’s management.
Winning the KPL on his first season was not a mere fete. To coronate it, the 50-year-old Briton tattooed Gor Mahia’s logo on his left foot, setting the social media, especially Gor Mahia fans, ablaze. Dylan Kerr is the third expatriate tactician to win the Kenyan Premier League title with Gor Mahia, and if you thought he will rest on his laurels, you are mistaken- the man is on a mission, a mission to lift the trophy for the second year on the trot, before his contract with the Green Army runs out.
Kerr joined Gor Mahia in July 2017, replacing Jose Marcelo Ferreira who resigned from his post in inglorious manner. To assess his team’s firepower, Gor Mahia organized a friendly match against English Premier League side Everton in Tanzania.
“When I joined Gor Mahia I was given an ultimatum by the management; to ensure I win the league. I talked to the players and we came to task that we have to add value to our career in that we be remembered in future,” Kerr says.
Stamping his authority in the league, Kerr recorded an unbeaten run in his first nine matches. Prior to this incredible run, Gor Mahia’s ship was sinking faster than Venice, a period that could be described as transitional, following the departure of Marcelo. Under his watch, Gor Mahia only lost one match throughout the season.
So, who is Dylan Kerr?
Kerr is a former English professional footballer who played as a left-back at Sheffield Wednesday in 1984. However, he did not make any league appearances for the club in his four years. Other clubs he played for include Arcadia Shepherds, Leeds United and Kilmarnock in Scotland.
Prior to his appointment as Gor Mahia manager, Kerr ignited his coaching career in United States before returning to Scotland to work for Argyll and Bute between 2005 and 2009.
In September 2009, Kerr signed a contract as an assistant manager at South African club Mpumalanga Black Aces until 2010, before moving to Tanzania.
“Working in South Africa helped me learn the African culture,” notes Kerr.
In Tanzania, Kerr served as the head coach of Tanzanian giants Simba SC before taking a job as under-18 academy coach at Chesterfield.
Kerr’s tactical nous
What stands out in the current context is Dylan Kerr’s mastermind in catapulting Gor Mahia to glory, in style and class.
“I learnt a lot about East African football during my time in Tanzania. My philosophy as a player and a coach is to enjoy football, create chances, get crosses in the box and more importantly to score,” he explains.
He also explains why they have got together so quickly, saying: “This is a fantastic club and I was so excited when the management gave me the chance to coach such a champion mentality side.”
“Without the hard work and commitment of the players and the technical bench I couldn’t have made it. I term it as the best in my coaching career.”
Choosing football over wife
Dylan Kerr loves football and all his life revolves around the pitch as epitomized in the passion in his training sessions and touchline innuendos. Football is all that matters to him.
“Am just a guy who loves football, I have got no wife, no girlfriend, no children; I just have my mum and my family. I just love the game. I had this passion since I was five years old,” Kerr says amid loud laughter.
It is this love for football that made him divorce his wife.
“I got married at 28 years and I divorced at 29 years. I decided to devote my life to football,” says the 50-year-old.
“I have got three tattoos, two football ones and one for my mother whom I love so much for her immense support.”
What next for Kerr at Gor Mahia?
Gor Mahia have once again qualified for the CAF Champions League. Given their previous dismal performances in the continental competition, Kerr admits there is pressure.
“I know the club and the fans have expectations besides ambitions so we have to do our best. The Champions League is coming and we have to do our best,” he said.
On next season’s plans, “We have to sit down to discuss the squad situation. I need to do my research to know which players we need to fix in come next season. All we need is to improve our team.”
“You will see me here next season; am going nowhere. I am committed to Gor Mahia and now am thinking of how to pick up a better squad for the CAF champions league assignment,” he remarks.
Fate of Harambee Stars
According to Kerr, Kenya is rich in football talent and it is high time Kenyan football matched other African powerhouses.
“For the KPL we have the opportunity to improve Kenyan football starting with stadiums renovations. FKF and KPL should sit down together and come up with ideas that can help and improve our footballers,” opined the former Leeds United player.
He is a believer of unity as a measure of success.
“If we come together including the club managers and the technical benches I am sure Kenyan football will be better. Kenyan fans need to be motivated to come to the stadiums,” he concludes.