Pitso Mosimane has kept me grounded, says Lyle Lakay
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JOHANNESBURG - Lyle Lakay may have had a sizeable contribution in Mamelodi Sundowns’ domestic treble-winning season, but he says coach Pitso Mosimane’s famous motivational quote “don’t fall off the train” has kept him grounded.
In the star-studded Sundowns team no one’s place is guaranteed. Hard work at training and a healthy lifestyle are rewarded with a chance on the pitch, no matter the magnitude of the name and role before.
But so often when players fall out of favour due to mischief, resulting in finding themselves on the bench, kicking their heels in the stands or being shown the exit, the club is labelled “career ending”.
Lakay is, however, an exception. Knowing that his place in the team will only be guaranteed by hard work, he knew that when inconsistency strikes that’s not the end of the world, instead he has to dust himself off and push harder.
“To be honest after I won the first league title in 2019 that comment (of the club being career ending) came up. But I joined the team because I wanted to win trophies and compete. And I’ve always told myself that faith without hard work is dead,” Lakay said, adding that he is keen to see out his career at the Brazilians.
Sundowns have been the busiest team in South African football in the last seven years, challenging for local and continental honours. But while there’s been a need to balance the squad and ensure rotation, not all the players have stepped up to the plate when needed.
Early last year, George Lebese left the team feeling after failing to meet expectations, following his much-criticised move from Kaizer Chiefs. Aubrey Ngoma and Lucky Mohomi wore wry smiles in the team photos during their recent completion of a domestic treble.
In the recently completed season, Sundowns won the PSL title, which was their record 10th league championship, Nedbank Cup and Telkom Knockout. For Ngoma and Mohomi, their contribution was negligible, after only making four domestic appearances between them.
“We don’t have much time to train certain things because of travelling in and out of the country. But he (Mosimane) always says ‘don’t fall off the train’ because the train keeps on moving,” Lakay explained.
“When you are not playing, you have to ensure that you are fit, so that when you get your chance, you are ready to take it. And when you get your chance and you are not ready; you’ve seen what has happened to certain players.”
With 21 domestic appearances under his belt last season, it’s quite fair to say that Lakay had a decent outing - although it was not good enough in his second full season at the club. But the 29-year old wing-back is not feeling discouraged, saying that his strong relationship with Mosimane has kept him going.
“He’s got a different mentality. He always wants to win more and never settles for anything below excellence. He always wants to learn,” Lakay said.
“In the ‘bio-bubble’, after the Maritzburg United or Golden Arrows game, he told me ‘you must always be willing to learn. Because you had a good game yesterday, doesn’t mean you must relax. You’ve got to stay hungry. You must want to do better than you’ve done the day before’. And that is why I think he’s achieved what he’s achieved.”