South African defender Tercious Malepe has opened up his move to the Ukraine Premier League.
The 24-year-old Orlando Pirates product moved to FC Mynai at the end of the 2019/20 season and joined a host of young players plying their trade in Europe. Before taking this crucial step in his career, the defender made over 80 senior football appearances in the SA leagues. Between 2015 and 2020, he was loaned out from Pirates to several clubs including Moroka Swallows, Chippa United and Ajax Cape Town.
Speaking to FARPost from Ukraine, the former Amajita captain said moving abroad has always been his dream and he wants to grab the opportunity with both hands.
“It was something that I have been looking to achieve as a player, playing with the best clubs in the world so I’m happy that I got to face new challenges with teams that are always competing in the Europa League and Champions League.
“I believe there is more to learn this side. The game becomes interesting as you see how top players in the world apply themselves in the field of play.”
He admitted that the physicality and competitiveness of the league has forced him to step up his game and fight at every game to be amongst the best in the division.
“To be honest with you, it is a very aggressive league. It is physically and mentally demanding as the game is quick, everyone is looking to win every game possible.”
In the past six years, South Africa has seen many youngsters moving overseas at a very young age and going to compete with the best footballers around the world. Malepe has encouraged more youngsters to get out of their comfort zone and move abroad – something he says will help the national team.
“In my opinion, It is good to explore different and uncomfortable environments. I think if you do that you grow quicker as a footballer and your maturity gets better as you have to adjust to unfamiliar weather and language. You also get homesick, but with that being said sometimes it’s a matter of how much you really want something.
“Sometimes it’s just a matter of things not going well and nobody to be blamed because sometimes that’s how football is. When I was at Ajax Cape Town we were told a lot about how Naby Keita failed at Ajax, but now he has made it to a club like Liverpool which is amazing.
“When my former coach and mentor Mushin (Ertugral) told me the story of Keita I cried, but I told myself that anything is possible, who ever thought I would be an Olympian at such a young age?
“Moving abroad is a choice that is never easy at first, but once you settle you start to enjoy yourself. It helps to have many players abroad as they bring a lot of international experience to our national team and help us to do even better.
“Personally, it’s been good so far for me. I’ve been to the U17 Fifa World Cup, back to back U20 World Cups and back to back Olympics. I believe it’s just a matter of time until we get everything right at the national team with the pool increasing and every footballer raising his hand to get a chance.”
Malepe has featured in eight league games for Mynai and he has established himself as a regular in the starting eleven since the dawn of the new year. He is currently serving a two-match ban after receiving a straight red card against Dynamo Kyiv over a week ago.
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By Prince Sobayeni