JOHANNESBURG - The call for more South African footballers to go abroad came from an unlikely source this week - Granwald Scott the Wits midfielder who returned home in January following a year with Slovakia’s Slovan Bratislava.
The 29-year-old’s abrupt move to Europe ended recently when a new coach thought “Scotty” was surplus to requirements. But given a chance to try his luck again, with some guarantee of a fair amount of game time, he’d do it all over.
What is even more fascinating is that Scott secured the transfer when he was kicking his heels at Ajax Cape Town as he struggled to win his place as a regular under then coach Roger de Sa.
“All the time,” was his reply when asked if he had any regrets about not going overseas when he was a lot younger.
“Just after coach Roger came to Ajax and I had that good season where I won Player of the Season at the club, he told me that if there is an opportunity to go, I should take it. You always feel like there is something missing if you never take the chance.
“And I also got injured when I went to Ajax Amsterdam those many years ago. They liked me but my injury meant I couldn’t go back. They are only interested in players under the age of 21 there, not older.”
Having spent only a year in Slovakia, it feels like Scott gave up and returned to a comfortable surrounding, although it was in Johannesburg and not Cape Town.
Yes and no, he claims.
“There was no build-up when I left last year. I basically had a week to pack my bags and go there for trials and did not get a chance to go back home to say goodbye. I have a daughter, family and a girlfriend and you miss that,” Scott explained.
“It can be lonely in Slovakia because for some reason people there are shy to speak English.
“But as long as I was playing, I was fine because you need to play regularly at my age. When a new coach came in, he didn’t like my style, so when I was offered a chance to join Wits and work with someone like Gavin Hunt, I went for it.
“But sure, I regret not going to play in Europe when I was younger.”
Scott also returned to try and help Wits win the Absa Premiership title, and the Clever Boys - second on the league table, a point behind leaders Cape Town City with two games in hand - are genuine title contenders.
Scott is right in the thick of it having quickly become one of the first names on the starting team sheet.
Wits will go to the summit if they beat Platinum Stars on Saturday night. Scott has come close to being league a winner three times before, the Urban Warriors finishing the 2003, 2009 and 2011 campaigns as runners-up.
“I missed playing in South Africa. I missed the ‘Kasi’ (local) flavour. There it’s pass and move, press and work hard. Tactically in Slovakia they are maybe ahead of us, but because Wits have coach Gavin, I feel he is able to combine the two styles,” Scott said.