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Lucky Lekgwathi tribute comments

Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2016 - 17:01

Players come and go but legends live forever. One such legend who hails from Ga-Rankuwa, has undoubtedly cemented himself as a lifetime figure at the Club.

Last night Orlando Pirates took time off to honour Lucky Lekgwathi for his 14 years of service in the colours of the Mighty Buccaneers.

During this period, Lekgwathi has seen many players come through the ranks. took time off to speak to some players who have played alongside Bra Slagga.

Diane Klate (BIDVest Wits)

Q: What do think made Lucky special?

“Lucky was one of the first people to welcome to Orlando Pirates, he told me he was happy that I joined the Club. He said that he was aware that I was a winner and that he wanted me to help him win trophies for the Club. The key thing is that he knew how to make you feel welcomed which was an important part of the Club’s success.

He believed long before any of us bought into the dream and to be honest he was the catalyst behind those two magical seasons with Pirates. After winning the MTN8 he came to me again and said look this is the beginning we can get more if we work together and the rest is history we won the double trouble back to back.

Q: What was it like working with Lucky?

“Lucky lead by example, he always put the Club first. I think having played with him and known him both on and off the field, I feel he is a very humble and down to earth.

“He is a hard worker, he looks after himself and he always trained extra at the gym and for me that made him the perfect example of a role model. I think that was the secret to his longevity and why the guy has been able to play as long as he has. Only a special breed of a player can pull that off and there are a precious few around the world who have been able to pull it off like the likes of Ryan Giggs in England.”

Q: How would you characterise him?

“He is a born leader, a warrior both on and off the field. I think he is an exceptional guy, who has a lot to offer be it for Pirates only or for South African football in general. Having played for so long, I hope he gets to share his experience and wisdom on the right platforms with the young, up and coming players and the entire football fraternity.”

Andile Jali (Oostende)

Q: Your experience with Lucky Lekgwathi?

“It was good, when I joined the Club he was the Captain and he made me feel welcomed, like I belonged at Pirates.

“He was a great motivator, when he spoke to the players he always had the ability to make us believe. Especially when we were down and out, it was like he always had the right words. He was never satisfied with the average performance, he always pushed and demanded more from us. He was hungry for success and he made us want to win. He made us believe we can win the treble.”

Q: Any funny memories you want to share?

“Ooh Thixho, we used to fight a LOT! All the time while we were on the pitch Bra Slugga and I used to fight, sometimes for the whole 90 minutes because I used to get a lot of yellow cards. My job was to destabilise the opposition and that meant a lot of marking but I would get so angry because while I was trying to focus, there comes Bra Slugger shouting at me for the entire match. So I would take out my frustration on the opposition and when I get booked we would fight because I blamed him for making me angry and he blamed me for getting booked. Whenever I heard the Referees whistle blow, I knew that oh God here comes Bra Slugger and the rest of the guys knew that isukile – sizolwa again and that was because we were both so emotionally involved in the game.

“But the one thing I respect about him was that at the end of the match, he left it all on the field. The fights never even once went beyond the final whistle, at the end of the match he was like a friend and a big brother again.”

Okpara Williams (Pirates Legend)

Q: What do think made Lucky special?

“Lucky is very respectful, it doesn’t matter that you are a senior or junior player. To him, you are treated the same. It’s a rare quality because in this day and age, people are losing that value of respect and good manners. He is also very humble, and loyal. You should see how he interacts with the fans. There are times when we are on the road with the players doing activations and he is always the last to leave. The fans love him and he loves the fans. He always treats them as his family.

“He also commands respect wherever he goes and is not afraid to speak his mind. He speaks the truth and I think that’s what people will remember most about him. He was always able to speak to the Chairman, the coach, the players, and even challenge things in his calm and respectful manner. He always did things with the best intentions of the team. He always put others first.”

Q: What was it like working with Lucky?

“It was always a pleasure to work with Slagga because you knew that whatever situation the team was in, he would always have constructive feedback and advice. He was important to the team because he was always open to discussion, even staying behind after training and matches to get to the bottom of any issues or challenges. He always looked out for the team, especially the new players.

“He was an inspiration because he worked so hard and he believed in himself. The players always used to see him in the gym before the training session started, and wondered how he still managed to outrun most of them during the sessions, then still go back for a cycle after training. He looked after himself very well and always spoke to the players to do the same. Having Lucky on the team was like having an extra coach, mentor, physio, advisor, motivator all in one.”

Q: How would you characterise him?

“Lucky is first and foremost a family man. In all the time that I have known him, he has mentioned his family at every opportunity. I knew them before I even met them because of how he talks about them. He is also a fighter, never gives up. I remember when he was injured and wondering if he would ever play again. But he kept his head and just worked hard to get back to full fitness and ended up winning trophies in quick succession. He is not driven by money, he just wants to make a difference in people’s lives and leave a mark wherever he goes. I will never forget Lucky Lekgwathi, he is one of a kind. A special player and more importantly a special human being.”

Gerald Raphahlela (Pirates Legend)

Q: Your experience with Lucky Lekgwathi?

“I first met Lucky when I was playing at Real Rovers. He came on trial as a striker because where he played before, he had a powerful shot. He was very aggressive and as a striker, you don’t need the amount of aggression that he had. So I told him that he was better suited as a defender, and because of his shot and footwork, playing from the back meant he would have more time and space to get forward.

“He was my understudy then, and ironically, when I moved to Pirates he became my understudy there as well. When I was on my way out, he was the guy that was taking over from me. I was very happy because he started showing signs of being a quality defender even then, and I feel like I had a large influence in making that happen. I groomed him when he arrived at Pirates because it was not easy coming to the city and to such a big team especially for young players. It was and still is an intimidating environment.

Q: Any special memories you have of the man?

“Our age differences meant that we weren’t very close but what I can think of in terms of special memories was his partnership with Old John at the back. We were older players at that stage and on the way out so to see the two young guys coming in and winning the league was special. He still called on me for advice with playing at the back and also establishing himself so we always had that open channel, but for me, that was a memory I will remember about him.

Q: Any funny memories you want to share?

“(Laughing) I don’t think there was anything specifically funny that I can recall, you’d have to ask the other players for that! (Editor: Lucky however recalls an instance involving Gerald and other senior players during training, where Lucky was trying to impress the coach by running hard during the warmup drills. Gerald and other senior defenders pulled him aside and told him to stop because he was seemingly making them look bad. He didn’t heed the advice. And at the end of the session, was ‘confronted’ about his behaviour!)

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