Keagan Dolly is living his dream in Montpellier

Life since the protracted transfer saga from Mamelodi Sundowns that almost derailed his move

25 June 2017 - 00:02 By NJABULO NGIDI

What makes you think that you won't be like your peers who spend a few seasons abroad - and then, ultimately, come back home?
Because of my mentality. Nothing was handed to me. I have fought for everything I have in my life and I am not about to stop fighting for what I deserve. I know that there will be tough times where I don't play much. I will endure that because I am a tough person. I think the problem with most of our players is that they like being in a comfort zone. We end up being complacent because it's nice to be at home, you earn good money and you play week-in, week-out. But that doesn't push you. I won everything there is to win in this country and the continent with Mamelodi Sundowns. I felt that I needed a different challenge.
How did you handle the drawn-out transfer from Sundowns?
I have this belief that if something is meant to be, it will happen. If you are destined for something, no one can stop you. I am a very positive person. My positive mind-set kept me going. I knew it was pointless worrying about things over which I had no control. I was ready for anything. If it happened, I would be happy that I was realising my dream to play in Europe. If it didn't, I would have kept going, played for Sundowns and looked to improve my game.How has playing in the French Ligue 1 improved your game?
Football in France is way different to the game in South Africa. It is quicker in France. You must be fast and clever. You have to know what you are going to do with the ball before you get it. I have grown in my time here. I am more mature in how I play and in my decision-making.
What has your time in France been like?
It has been a learning curve. Everything that I have gone through this season is preparing me for the next one, because I joined the team halfway through the season. I didn't have a pre-season with them. I have learned a lot, which I think will put me in a good position next year.
What impact did the firing of head coach Frédéric Hantz, just days after you joined the team, have on you settling down?
It gave me an opportunity to catch up with everyone because I was on holiday when I joined the team. I wasn't fit. I first had to work on my fitness and understand how things are done there. When a new coach arrived, it meant that everyone was starting on a clean slate and there wasn't much that I had to catch up on. It was new ideas and new ways of doing things. It gave us all an equal opportunity to impress the new coach [then Jean-Louis Gasset, who has since been replaced by Michel Der Zakarian]. I was able to get a few games under my belt. I think that I could have done better, but I know that I will do better next season. I have built a solid foundation and I will spend the pre-season with the team.What has helped you adapt to life in a different environment?
I knew what to expect. I was going into a new country on a new continent. I expected the culture shock. What helped me to adapt to everything was that this is my dream. This is something that I have been working towards since a young age. Taking French lessons has also helped me a lot. I am not yet fluent in the language, but I know important words and phrases. I know enough to communicate with my teammates on the field.
What has your highlight been?
Making my debut (against AS Monaco on February 7). It was a special moment because I was living my dream. I am playing in one of the best leagues in Europe, with a talented group of teammates and I am coming up against some of the best players in the world. I couldn't ask for more.
How did your time at Mamelodi Sundowns - especially the 2015/16 season when you travelled all over the African continent and the world - prepare you for Montpellier?
I don't think that I would be in Europe if it wasn't for the opportunities Sundowns gave me, especially in 2016. That year I was part of a team that not only won the league but also the Caf Champions League and we went to play in Japan in the Fifa Club World Cup. All of that helped me to be a better player and it gave me more exposure. I won cups with them and I was nominated for major awards. I also played in the Olympics with the Under-23s and travelled with Bafana Bafana to the Gambia. All of those things laid the foundation for me to be where I am now. That's why I am grateful for what Sundowns did for me and my career.

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.