Lucky Baloyi

Kick Off - - INSIDE - BY MAKHOSONKE ZUMA

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.

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