"It's been a pretty tough journey"

If you had told Kgatlana that she would be Africa’s best player at the age of 22 she would have rolled her eyes. But she is not a player who has simply relied on her talent to do the talking. She works extremely hard and is currently reaping the rewards.

She was named African Women’s Player of the Year at a ceremony held in Dakar on Tuesday, and also walked away with the Goal of the Year gong for her strike against Nigeria in last year’s Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON).  

“If anyone told me a few years back that I would be an African champion at 22, I would probably have dismissed them because they would be selling me wild dreams,” she told SAFA's website.

“It has been a pretty tough journey but the Lord has been the centre of my life.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank every single one of you who has supported me through my highs and lows. Special thanks though goes to these two ladies who had my back through the most difficult of times of my football career. These are captain Janine van Wayk and Linda Motlhalo.

“These two will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you to these two legends of the South African women’s team.

“If it was not for your persistence in creating better opportunities and making sure that the face of women’s football in South Africa is recognised, people like me would not have hoped, would not have been inspired, and would not have believed in working hard to be successful.

“Thank you to everyone who has worked with me on and off the pitch contributing to the player and person that I am. Coach Vera Pauw has a special place in my heart.

“Thank you to my family and friends and a big thank you to the whole country for believing in me.

“Thank you to my loving and fantastic parents for allowing me to be me and expressing my commitment to the game.” 

Kgatlana was welcomed by adoring fans at OR Tambo International Airport on Thursday, before she traveled to Cape Town to join her Banyana teammates for the upcoming international friendlies against the Netherlands and Sweden.