Tale of Pirates skippers

2011-06-18 19:39

When they first came to Orlando Pirates, players from ­Pretoria were often ­referred to as ­­“ibhari za se Pitori”, but these ­bumpkins have gone on to become successful leaders at the club.

The latest captain, Lucky ­Lekgwathi, lifted three trophies in the past ­season – the Absa Premiership, the MTN8 Cup and the Nedbank Cup.

The 35-year-old hails from Ga-Rankuwa, east of Pretoria.

The success story of the Pretoria boys has rubbed off on Lekgwathi in a big way as he has followed in the footsteps of the late Nick “Bazooka” Seshweni, Dan “Dance” Malesela and Edward “Magents” Motale, who all come from Pretoria townships.

These legends led the team with aplomb during their days at the helm.

Motale’s big moment was when he hoisted the African Champions League trophy in 1995.

Although he was a stand-in captain for the suspended Innocent ­Mcwango, Motale will go down in history as the one who lifted the ­trophy on that memorable day in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, after Bucs edged out Asec Mimosa 1-0.

Tshwane, particularly the townships of Mabopane and Soshanguve, have over the years produced quality ­defenders who captained Pirates.

The list includes Abednigo ­Netshodwe, Oupa Mabuza and Wilson Rathelele.

According to Malesela, who steered the team to the Bob Save Super Bowl title in 1988, the fact that players from outside Johannesburg have to work “harder” to make it at ­Pirates, has inspired Pretoria lads to make the grade at Bucs.

“During those years we were seen as outsiders and it was not easy to command a regular place in the team unless you possessed something ­extraordinary.

“We were called names and had to work harder than everybody to prove ourselves,” recalls Malesela.

He said when he took over from Seshweni, there were sceptics within the team who wanted to bring him down.

“They would say ‘ku phume ibhari yase Pitori kwa ngena enye’ but I soldiered on. It was not easy as you need everybody’s support to work as a team,” said Malesela.

The former defender paid tribute to Seshweni for showing him the ropes, thereby making him strong.

Seshweni was renowned by the Ghost for his trademark clutching of the ball ­tightly in his arm whenever he was leading his troop onto the field.

“I learnt a lot from Bazooka but apart from his intelligence he was also a hard worker and a true professional. He didn’t compromise when it came to the game and taught me to work for myself and put my interest first.”

Lekgwathi, who guided Pirates to a treble this past season, said he still keeps in contact with Motale on the aspects of the game.

He said he was also advising ­another Pretoria-born player ­Thulasizwe Mbuyane to work hard to maintain the legacy of Pretoria ­players at the club. Perhaps Bucs chairperson Irvin Khoza should look no further than Pretoria when he chooses his next captain.

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