'I thought I would be silenced forever' - Sean Connor on his dramatic flight from Zimbabwe to South Africa after contract dispute

The former Sligo Rovers manager is locked in a pay dispute with former employers and has revealed his fears for his life
By Ernest Makhaya

Irishman Sean Connor is in South Africa following a dramatic contract dispute with his former employers CAPS United in neighbouring Zimbabwe and revealed to Goal.com his fears that he would be 'silenced forever' after he was forced out of the club and the country without salary owed to him.

Connor stated that he feared for his life while coaching the Zimbabwean outfit after receiving threats from some members of the club's management and players, as well as fans.

"I was threatened when I was still a coach, even after they terminated my contract. I thought they were going to silence me forever, but I am glad I managed to leave Zimbabwe for South Africa," he said.

The Zimbabwean giants terminated Connor's contract in August 2012 and he decided to take the matter to arbitration. He had a fixed contract with United worth a basic salary of USD$4,000 per month, as well as a win bonus of USD$400, that was supposed to be reviewed last month.

Connor, who has also managed Bohemians and Dundalk, claimed that CAPS still owe him USD$90,000 and is waiting for a court to rule on the issue. He was fired without a contract pay-off and requested USD$122,000 as part of the settlement. However, United could only offer him $15,000. He admitted that he is experiencing money problems as he awaits the decision.

"They still owe me USD$90,000, and I have been struggling financially. They just need to give me what belongs to me, and I will walk away," he said.

Connor was fired after a sequence of poor results in the Zimbabwean Premier Soccer League. The 45-year-old manager also claimed that players deliberately underperformed in order to get him the sack.

"The players didn't play their best football, and didn't listen to what I was telling them as their coach. They just wanted to sabotage me and my job," Connor said.

He also claimed that he received no support from the club management and believes that his cards were marked from day one.

"I spoke with the management, telling them that some of the players are just losing games on purpose, but they didn't do anything about it. I then received different impressions and treatment from the management. I feel they didn't like me also, and for that they decided to terminate my contract," he said.

Connor hopes to make a comeback to football after his legal proceedings and said that he still has a future in football.

"I am hoping to continue with my coaching career, but I am not sure if I will ever return to Zimbabwe. I will wait and see where the legal proceedings take me, and how far this case would go, but the next step is definitely finding another team to coach, after this whole issue is resolved," he said.

Connor will only leave South Africa for his native land if he gets what he believes he deserves.

"It will depend on the court case I have against CAPS United. I can't really say when, because the decision hasn't been made as yet, but I will go home to recharge my batteries," said Connor.