Farewell to a great captain
Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2016 - 22:51
Tonight marked a special occasion for the Orlando Pirates family. On the one end, the Buccaneers kicked off their Absa Premiership campaign with a resounding victory over Golden Arrows but before kick-off, the Club paid its respects to a living legend Lucky Lekgwathi who was honoured for his fourteen wonderful years at the Club.
Former Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson once said: “The harder you work, the luckier you become.”
As Lucky Lekgwathi wraps up the final chapter of his footballing chapter as a player; we look back at his illustrious career in the famous Black and White.
We look back to a player who was the epitome of hard work and dedication - A player who always led from the front and never backed down from a challenge.
Barring the injuries he suffered, whenever Lucky was fit, he would always be amongst the top performers in the team. He always proved that age was indeed just a number.
There is no doubt that the name Lucky Lekgwathi has been engraved in the history books of the Club forever. His legacy will remain for years to come.
A legend who has donned the famous Black and White for over a decade; who would have thought that when Lucky joined the Club in 2002, that number the carried on his back over the seasons, would define his career.
14 was not just a number. 14 was the years he spent at the Club; and 14 was also the number of caps he earned for Bafana Bafana.
Lucky is undoubtedly the most successful Orlando Pirates captain in the history of the Club.
As a player he has won everything on offer in the local game. He has won eight major titles - three league, two MTN8, one Telkom Knockout, and two Nedbank Cup. During that period he also came close to winning the CAF Champions League, only losing in the final against Al Ahly in 2013 as well as falling at the final hurdle in the final of the CAF Confederations Cup (registered but didn’t play) last year.
In the 14 years that he spent playing for the Buccaneers, Lucky has notched up an impressive 342 starts falling to within just 34 games of breaking the record of most starts for the club held by another legend, Williams Okpara (375).
August 10, 2002 – THE DEBUT
This day marks Lucky Lekgwathi’s official debut alongside the likes of Hleza Mofedi, Abednego Netshodzwe and Jimmy Kauleza to name just a few.
The 26-year old who had joined the Mighty Buccaneers from Ria Stars, would begin his long and successful journey for the Club.
The competition was the BP Top 8; the venue Rand Stadium; and the opposition were old rivals Moroka Swallows.
The relatively unknown debutants helped Orlando Pirates to an impressive 5-0 thrashing of their Dube Birds rivals, with Jimmy Kauleza netting a hat-trick in the process.
April 1, 2001 – FIRST CALL UP
Whilst still at Ria Stars, Lekgwathi got the call that all players dream of. That call was to confirm his inclusion into the South African national team squad for the Cosafa Cup clash against Mozambique.
At the time of his call-up, in an interview with Jonty Mark he said: “"It's great….On Good Friday I was in church, praying for a place in the Bafana squad. And now I've got it!” Slagga, as he is affectionately known would go on to represent his country on 14 occasions.
November 23, 2002 – MAIDEN GOAL
This was the day that Lekgwathi scored his debut goal for the Club, in Pirates’ 2-0 victory over Dynamos in the old Orlando Stadium.
Ironically, that game was used to celebrate the Club’s 65th anniversary. This was Pirates’ first game at Orlando Stadium, after an almost six year absence. The match also coincided with Orlando East's 70th anniversary – the oldest township in Soweto.
May 17, 2003 – FIRST TASTE OF SILVER
This was the Lekgwathi’s first taste of silverware in Orlando Pirates colours. Pirates who were log leaders coming into their league match against Wits University, only needed a point to secure the league title.
After going a goal down via a Benson Mhlongo goal as early as the 9th minute; the Buccaneers fought hard to get the equaliser. However, the stubborn Wits defence thwarted any advance to goal and whenever the Buccaneers did get through, goalkeeper Wayne Roberts was always there to stop them in their tracks….that’s until the 82nd minute, when up stepped the late Lesley Manyathela to fire the much needed equaliser.
May 21 2011 - 300 CLUB
On May 21, Lekgwathi joined a unique group of professionals to record 300 league matches for a single club.
May 28, 2011 – HISTORIC TREBLE
After going seven years without tasting cup success with the Club, Lekgwathi broke the barren spell in the best possible way. Following their success in the MTN8 as well as clinching the league title; the Mighty Buccaneers clinched a historic treble by coming from a goal down to defeat Black Leopards in the Nedbank Cup.
May 21, 2012 – DOUBLE TREBLE
Orlando Pirates proved that their treble winning success of 2011 was no fluke by repeating it a year later and at the same time making Lucky Lekgwathi – not only, one of the most decorated Orlando Pirates captain’s in the history of the club, but the most decorated captain in the league.
May 17, 2014 – FINAL TROPHY
With PSL league action having ended for the season, all eyes switched to the Nedbank Cup Final, as Orlando Pirates clashed with Bidvest Wits at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
Having failed to win any silverware in three attempts, Pirates made it fourth-time lucky, as they came from a goal down to beat Wits 3-1, with Kermit Erasmus grabbing a brace. This would be Lekgwathi’s eighth and final piece of silverware for the Mighty Buccaneers.
Thank you for the wonderful memories Bra Slagga