Dane Kelly is a rising talent in the United States. The Reno 1868 FC forward – the club’s first-ever signing in December 2016 -- is currently the USL’s leading scorer with 12 goals, one more than fellow Jamaican Romario Williams. In Jamaica, the now 26-year-old started his professional career with Tivoli Gardens, before moving to the U.S. in 2011 to play with the Charleston Battery and Swope Park Rangers. Kelly took some time to speak to CONCACAF.com about his career and future ambitions.
How old were you when you first started to play football?
I first started playing when I was about seven-years-old in Jamaica. From then on, I knew it was the sport I loved and I wanted to play it every day. I am happy I continued with it to be honest.
Which player did you look up to in your youth?
The player that I looked up to growing up was Fabian Malcolm. He's from the same community I'm from and he was impressive, so I looked up to him every day I played the sport of football.
How key was Tivoli Gardens in your development as a football player?
Tivoli Gardens was vital in my development as a player because they were the first professional team for which I played. They gave me the playing opportunity and allowed me to enhance my ability and they gave me the confidence to attack. They were so key for me.
Since 2011, you have been playing in the USL, how do you compare the USL to the Premier League in Jamaica?
Playing wise it's not a big difference. It is just as physical and as competitive as Jamaica.
You won the USL title in 2012, when you played with Charleston Battery. What was that experience like?
It was a great feeling for me as a player. It was my first title since leaving Jamaica as it is a moment I will always cherish.
What are your objectives for 2017?
My goals for 2017 are to win a championship with my new team and hopefully be the league leading scorer. I am leading at the moment, but my fellow Jamaican Romario Williams is catching up, so I need to step it up (laughs).
What advice would you give youths who want to play football professionally?
The advice I would give them is to stay focused, work hard and believe in themselves, and to never give up on the dream.
What do you like to do outside for fun outside football?
I like to listen to music and cook.
You are part of Jamaica’s 40 player provisional roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer. Is making your senior national team debut also a goal of yours?
Playing for the national team is definitely something I've been dreaming about. Hopefully my dream can be fulfilled this year, but, yes certainly, this is the one goal I want to achieve. There is no better feeling that representing the country of your birth, so I will be working hard to be part of the 23-man squad.