Dolly, a recipient of this gong two years ago while playing for Ajax Cape Town, was Monday nominated alongside his Mamelodi Sundowns teammates, Hlompho Kekana and Khama Billiat, for the Footballer of the Season award, which will be the main attraction during the Premier Soccer League prize giving ceremony at Emperors’ Palace on Monday night.
The previous winners, with the exception of Ajax Amsterdam midfielder Thulani Serero, who walked away with the Young Player of the Season accolade in 2011, have seen their careers stall.
Dolly, too, was in danger of being a forgotten man as he spent his final season with the Urban Warriors as a fringe player. “That is what we struggle with here in South Africa, once a youngster gets praised it tends to go to our heads,” he explained.
“I have managed to learn from our past footballers’ mistakes and I told myself that I wouldn’t want to be in their position. People like Jabu Mahlangu (a problem child in his day at Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United) have been role models for me. I always take his life as an example and even now he talks to me and that means a lot.”
Clifford Ngobeni, Bongani Khumalo, Siyanda Xulu and Ronwen Williams were seen as emerging talents, but they have gone on to write different narratives to date, and their international careers with Bafana Bafana have suffered as a result.
Dolly, however, seems to being fulfilling his true potential, winning the league in his first season with Sundowns and not only being up for the Footballer of the Year award, but also being recognised by his peers as a candidate for the Players’ Player of the Season accolade, as well as a mixed selection panel of coaches and former players that deemed it fit to have him, together with Kekana and Billiat, for yet another prize in the Midfielder of the Season award.
He knows he is up against tough competition to take anything home on Monday because he spent the entire season terrorising the opposition with Kekana, Billiat and striker Leonardo Castro, who missed out on a nomination.
But the influential winger is just glad to have come out of a rut following concerns that his move to big spenders Sundowns would destroy him further due to a lack of game time.
“There are bigger things than just playing in the PSL, like playing in Europe and in the Champions League. There are guys our age that are playing in cup finals and scoring goals.
“For us to think we can settle in the PSL is wrong, that needs to change,” said Dolly, who revealed how he adjusted his own lifestyle to aim for the sky.
“Being a footballer is never easy because there are people who always want to be next to you and go out with you. I told myself I needed a steady girlfriend, which I got and moved in with her. My family is also there to keep my head level. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be the person and the player I am today.”
Quoting Barcelona superstar Neymar, who was earlier this year nominated alongside teammate Lionel Messi and his idol Ronaldo for the Fifa Ballon d’Or, Dolly said Sundowns would “have a party” even if he doesn’t walk away with the Footballer of the Year award because Kekana and Billiat were worthy winners in their own right.
“I think the entire team deserves this award because the players have really worked hard. Anyone can win it for me. “I am just happy to be part of the nominees, who best to share this with than with my teammates and fellow brothers who have been working hard with me? It’s a party,” Dolly said.
List of nominees:
Premiership Footballer of the Season
Khama Billiat, Keagan Dolly, Hlompho Kekana
Premiership Young Player of the Season (Under-21)
Aubrey Modiba, Rivaldo Coetzee, Sello Jaftha
Premiership Goalkeeper of the Season
Denis Onyango, Moeneeb Josephs, Shu-Aib Walters.Premiership Defender of the Season: Thabo Nthethe, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Vuyo Mer
Premiership Midfielder of the Season
Hlompho Kekana, Keagan Dolly, Khama Billiat
Premiership Players’ Player of the Season
Khama Billiat, Keagan Dolly, Hlompho Kekan
Premiership Coach of the Season
Gavin Hunt, Muhsin Ertugral, Pitso Mosimane
Premiership Goal of the Season
Ben Motshwari vs Chippa, Mpho Makola vs Chippa, Thabo Rakhale vs Aces
Premiership Top Goalscorer
NFD Top Goalscorer
MTN8 Last Man Standing
George Lebese, Cecil Lolo, Ndiviwe Mdabuka
Telkom Knockout Player of the Tournament
Thabo Nthete, Denis Onyango, Bongani Zungu
Nedbank Cup Young Player of the Tournament
Duminsani Ngwenya, Oscarine Masuluke, Ndivhuwo Ravhuhali
Nedbank Cup Player of the Tournament
Jacky Motshegwa, Jeremy Brockie, Tendai Ndoro
MultiChoice Diski Challenge Player of the Tournament
Khayelihle Shozi, Liam Jordan, Sibusiso Sibeko.
Original source: Dolly breaks Young Player Award curse