After 17 years of controlling midfields from Gabarone to Chicago to Pretoria, Botswana’s most recognised player, Dipsy Selolwane, is expected to hang up his boots. Reports emerging from South Africa suggest Selolwane will retire from all forms of football at the end of the season but hopes to get involved in youth coaching. He is the perfect candidate to mentor South Africa’s next generation because he is a man who knows how tough it can be to make it big. Selolwane, whose country of birth neighbours the one in which he is currently playing, had to go halfway around the world before he became a star in a place right next door to where he came from. Along the way, he became the Ryan Giggs of his country; the most celebrated figure in Botswanean football who carved a successful career overseas. The lessons he has learned on that journey could prove invaluable to other hopefuls. Selolwane’s career began in his home town where he turned out for Gabarone United as a teenager. As soon as his school days were behind him, he journeyed to St Louis in the United States, where he studied at the Harris-Stowe University. But when his scholarship failed to materialise, he had to find a way to pay for his studies and play the game, which he said forced him to grow up. He was selected in the third round of the MLS SuperDraft by the Chicago Fire but also wanted to chase glory in Europe. In 2001, Selolwane interrupted his studies to join Danish Club Vejle BK even though he knew they were struggling financially. “I didn’t have a good contract and they were bottom of the league but I didn’t mind because I wanted to make a name for myself,” he said in an interview with The Voice newspaper. “I guess that’s always the hope for us Africans when we go out there sometimes we have to start real low to go up.” When Vejle were relegated at the end of the season, Selolwane went back to Chicago where Bob Bradley was in charge. Although Selolwane struggled to make the starting line-up, he enjoyed soaking up what he saw about running the game. “Chicago really opened my eyes about the game, about the professionalism of it,” he told the Boston.com website. “They were very ambitious, doing things a lot of us in Africa should try to do. Build a league. More than one brand or one club.” It was with all that knowledge and experience that he returned to Africa. Musa Otieno, a Kenyan footballer who had seen Selolwane, recommended him to South African club Santos, based in Cape Town. He spent two seasons with them before trying his luck up country at Jomo Cosmos. When that didn’t work, he returned to the Cape for Ajax Cape Town where he had a successful stint. Selolwane moved to the league’s defending Champions SuperSport United just as Ajax were beginning to threaten to win the title. In the 2010-11 season. SuperSport relinquished the crown to Orlando Pirates and Ajax came second. He admitted he may have moved “at the wrong time,” but said he "did not regret his decision.” He had other reasons to be cheerful. His country, Botswana, were the first team to qualify for the 2012 African Nations’ Cup (ANC), in which they would make their maiden appearance so he had the chance to make a big impact. Selolwane became the first man to score a goal for the Zebras at continental level when he was asked to retake a penalty against Guinea in the tournament. Shorly after that high, Selolwane signed off from the international game in the same tournament. “It has been a privilege to play for my country and I was lucky to have a long career and crown it all with an appearance at the continent’s biggest competition,” he said in 2012. Later that same year, he was honoured with a benefit match which featured several South African players and it became clear his career was on the wane. But it was only after he returned to a college game that Selolwane feels comfortable saying goodbye. He said the University of Pretoria reminds him of his MLS days because it has the “same kind of vibe”. It is also somewhere he will come into contact with many young men who, just like him, are looking for a way to turn their footballing dreams into reality. They know who to ask for advice.