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Mokotjo has finally found the right platform to shine

Kamohelo Mokotjo's move to Championship side Brentford in this transfer window ended his eight-season stay in the Netherlands, where he had long outgrown the Dutch league.

The Bafana Bafana midfielder spent time at Feyenoord, PEC Zwolle and FC Twente, and for the last three seasons was among the most effective midfielders in the country.

In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a player with better pass completion rates than Mokotjo since he joined PEC in 2013.

However, it had looked at one point as though his Dutch adventure would end prematurely as he battled to make the breakthrough at Feyenoord under then coach Ronald Koeman. He had a successful season on loan at Excelsior Rotterdam, but could not earn the trust of the current Everton boss, who stated at the time that he simply preferred other options.

Mokotjo did not help himself with some petulant off-field behaviour that earned the ire of his boss, stemming from the fact that he believed he was not being given a fair crack.

It meant a change of scenery was needed and his career was given the boost it needed when he joined PEC, a club where he was virtually guaranteed of playing week in, week out.

It was a classic case of going from a small fish in a big pond, to a big fish in a small one and suddenly he was being given more and more responsibility to carry his new club. In his only campaign at PEC he was named the Supporters' Player of the Season and was also nominated among the league's Most Valuable Players.

He guided the unfashionable club to the Dutch Cup, beating Ajax Amsterdam 5-1 in the final.

Given his quality, his stay was always going to be short-lived and FC Twente swooped for his signature, though little did he know the club were over-extending themselves financially and so his two seasons there would be ones of struggle for the team as they battled to stay afloat.

But all through these hardships, Mokotjo shone, keeping up his consistently excellent performances and being handed the captain's armband in 2016/17, along with the title of The General, a sign of the respect the fans had for the way he marshalled what was a young group of players.

Twente were reluctant sellers when Brentford came knocking, but they needed to offload Mokotjo for both financial reasons and with the knowledge that he had outgrown the club.

For Brentford, it was the end of a two-year chase that had been scuppered in the past by Mokotjo's inability to obtain a work permit. But that became a non-issue late last year when he gained Dutch citizenship and an EU passport.

His arrival has been heralded and certainly much is expected of the 26-year-old by coach Dean Smith. "I think you only have to look at his nickname at FC Twente - the General - and you don't get that unless you're a good player," Smith told GetWestLondon.

"He's a leader. He's very personable. He's a good character, wins the ball and is very good on the ball and covers the ground really well.

"For me, he ticks all the boxes and he puts pressure on players. I said we were going to work the players hard, test their limits and see where they can go."

The Championship, in general, is a step up from the Dutch league, certainly in terms of speed and intensity, and Mokotjo is looking forward to testing himself at this level.

But of course, the ultimate aim is to move up a division and he is hoping he can do that with Brentford.

"I'm pleased with how I've adapted during the pre-season but it's more about what happens in the league that matters," Mokotjo added.

"For me, it's a new thing and I'm looking forward to the experience. At the end of the day, it's about the results."

Mokotjo's struggles in his early years in Holland are now a thing of the past and with a recall to the national team this year as well after a self-imposed exile under vocal former Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba, he could well have a hand in getting side to the World Cup in Russia too.

These are heady days for Mokotjo and a chance to prove his detractors wrong ... that he was destined for the big leagues of Europe all along.

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