The new Bloemfontein Celtic recruit talks about his time at Kaizer Chiefs, as well as his heartbreak with South Africa’s former giants Moroka Swallows
After refusing to join Bloemfontein Celtic on loan from Kaizer Chiefs in 2015, fast-forward to 2017 and Lucky Baloyi is a Siwelele player after an in-and-out spell at Naturena. Lucky’s move, as he says, is to resurrect his football career again. In this interview with KICK OFF, Baloyi shares the struggles of being sidelined at Amakhosi, getting relegated with Moroka Swallows and the dream of one day wearing the Bafana Bafana jersey. KICK OFF: Firstly, congrats on your move to Bloemfontein Celtic. How did this move happen? Lucky Baloyi:
Thanks my brother. The move happened because I didn’t get game-time at Chiefs. Even back when I went to Swallows, I asked Chiefs to loan me out so that I can get game time because I’m a player that wants to grow and learn from other players, but by playing. If I don’t play, there are less chances of me growing.
Since joining the club, how have things been?
Teams are different. I’ve met new people and everything is okay. I feel at home because people I played with before are around me. I can’t complain, though teams are different and wherever you go you have to start a new life.
How was your pre-season with coach Veselin Jelusic?
Things went well. They didn’t rush me because I joined them while they were busy with pre-season. But they pushed me hard so that I could be on the same level as other players who started pre-season early. I played in a pre-season tournament that took place at Bidvest Stadium, and that’s where the coach saw my m potential. I played well w and even created the t goal that we scored to t beat Wits 1-0. The technical t team was very v happy with my performance. p
What are you l ooking forward to t the most?
I want to work hard at training so that I can get game-time and be a regular player for Celtic. I want to make sure that my teammates and I work together so we can compete as I have that mentality of winning games. Where I came from, there was a mentality of wanting to win everything.
Did being released by Chiefs, having initially penned a two-year extension, surprise you?
No, I wasn’t surprised because we had a meeting and we agreed over my move. It was time … remember, I’m growing and I’m not getting younger. I want to achieve and be a player that’s playing. It doesn’t help to be in a team where I am not playing.
What did you think went wrong for you at Chiefs?
Nothing went wrong – things did not go well because I wasn’t playing. And as a player I didn’t want to stay because I was not getting an opportunity. I am looking to represent the country, and if I’m not playing at my club I won’t get a chance to represent the country. So it was best to leave
the team and go somewhere else where I can get game time. But it’s not like I’m saying I’m going to play – it will start at training and I need to work hard so that I can play.
Do you believe that you can still play for Bafana Bafana?
Yes! The ball is in my court to work hard in training and make sure that Celtic as a club is also achieving, and then I can be able to represent the national team. It’s also about having a good season, but those things will come if I work hard. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m up for the challenge.
Do you think you could have done more to get more game time at Chiefs?
There’s no game I played at Chiefs where I was not happy with my performance. Every time I got a chance, I used it. I think it was unfair for me not to get game time.
Coaches pick the teams … what was it like working under coach Steve Komphela?
It was good. He is a good coach, though all coaches differ. I won’t say this one is better than this one – no. As a player you have to adapt to the instructions of the coach. Steve is a good coach and I enjoyed playing under him even though things didn’t go well for me in terms of him not giving me a chance to play, but that’s how football is. There’s no player that can put himself in the team – the coach is there, he is the boss, he has to make the decisions and we have to follow them.
In 2014, you joined Swallows on loan and went on to be captain until the club was relegated in 2015 and you went back to Chiefs. How was that?
I enjoyed myself at Swallows. Even now I won’t forget those memories. I had a new home and I made friendships with other guys and things were going well. But the problem is – you know how football can be – we didn’t make it and the team was relegated. But I really, really enjoyed myself at Swallows because I was playing.
“I THINK IT WAS UNFAIR FOR ME TO NOT GET GAME-TIME.”
“I WILL MISS EVERYTHING ABOUT CHIEFS … I WON’T FORGET THOSE MOMENTS.”
How did you feel when Swallows was relegated?
It was painful. If I wasn’t contracted to Chiefs I would have gone down with the team. I would have tried to make sure that they bounced back because I was enjoying my life there and my heart was there.
And the funny part is, after returning to Chiefs from Swallows in 2015, you were actually meant to go on loan to Celtic, but the move never materialised. Why?
Eish, I was not happy with the move because I was returning from a loan and was then being sent out on loan again. I felt that it wasn’t necessary for me after having a good season with Swallows. I was ready to compete at Chiefs and I’m the one who refused to go to Celtic on loan – that was not an option for me! I thought when I went to Swallows it was because I didn’t get game-time. So after getting game time I was in good form and that is why I refused to go to Celtic on loan. I wanted to stay to compete for a place in the team, but unfortunately I didn’t even get that chance.
What will you miss most about Kaizer Chiefs?
I will miss everything about Chiefs. It’s the team that made me who I am now. I grew up in their development structures and when I went to the first team, that’s where I was paid professionally, and
And lastly, how did you get the nickname Sheriff?
was playing in the Under-15 team. We were once playing small-sided football and we were losing as the other team was scoring a lot of goals. So I decided to go play at the back to help stop them from scoring. They struggled and we managed to get back into the game and score a lot of goals, and my friends started saying “this is the Sheriff”. So ja, since then I was nicknamed “Sheriff”. My mom also calls me “Sheriff”, she doesn’t use my real name. [Laughs]. [Laughs] I got that nickname from a teammate, Lebogang Mashishi, while I learnt about how to buy a car and build a house for my parents. I won’t forget those moments.
Left: Baloyi shields the ball from ex-teammate Willard Katsande during a league match between Celtic and Chiefs at Free State Stadium in August.
Lucky Baloyi officially became a Bloemfontein Celtic player in July.