While Chippa United are notorious for firing coaches, they also have a history of giving people second chances, with several of their employees finding their way back to the club over the years.
Based in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, the club could easily change its name to Chippa re-United due to the number of players and coaches who have walked in and out – and back again – at some point.
Most recently, the Chilli Boys welcomed back Thamsanqa Sangweni for his third spell in seven years.
The 31-year-old defensive player first signed for Chippa in 2014, but left, only to return on two separate occasions between 2015 and 2018 – both times on loan from his former clubs Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates.
“I would like to thank the chairman. It was me who gave the chairman [Mpengesi] a call to ask if it would be possible to come back. I also spoke with the coach [Dan Malesela]. They had a discussion about it and accepted me back,” Sangweni told City Press.
Defender Ayabulela Konqobe also recently reunited with Chippa after some time in the football wilderness. He had a brief stint with the club in 2017. His second spell followed his return from abroad, where he played for Ekenäs IF in Finland last year.
Several players have had multiple loan spells at Chippa.
Among them are James Okwuosa, Ruzaigh Gamildien, Diamond Thopola, Msekeli Mvalo, Siyabulela Shai, Meshack Maphangule, Buyani Sali, Zitha Macheke and Tercious Malepe.
Why all these returns?
“I believe in second chances. I don’t even look at how we parted ways,” club owner Chippa Mpengesi told City Press this week.
“I am a forgiving person. It’s not only in football – even in my other businesses, that is how I am,” he added.
“I grew up disadvantaged and it was not easy. How can I watch when someone is not working, suffering and doesn’t have food on the table when I have the means? God has given me much, so I have to share with others,” Mpengesi said.
Despite Malesela’s vow never to go back to Chippa again, he returned in December for a fourth spell in charge, surpassing the record of the late Roger Sikhakhane, who had three stints with the club in the elite league.
Mpengesi is adamant that the public has the wrong perception of him: “What people think of me is not who I am. They just think, ‘ah that one who fires coaches every day’.
“Football is not the same as my other businesses. It requires me to make decisive decisions,” he said.
He backed this up with how he also rescued the career of some players. He cited Swallows’ in-form striker Gamildien and former Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates defender Asavela Mbekile as examples.
“Gamildien left [Chippa in 2019] and came back [last year], but I had a challenge when the coach at the time didn’t want him. I had to make a plan for him. I had to persuade the other coach [Brandon Truter] because I knew he could work under him. I am happy for him and his career.”
On Mbekile Mpengesi said: “Asavela had quit football and was at home. I went to get him from the rural areas where he was herding sheep, and asked him to come back to football.”