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HomeSouth African SoccerHappy Jele hopes to return to Orlando Pirates

Happy Jele hopes to return to Orlando Pirates

Jele parted ways with Pirates last year, bringing an end to an illustrious career that spanned 16 years and included over 400 appearances since 2006.

A statement at that time revealed that Jele was asked to seriously consider a non-playing role after extensive meetings, but the former captain subsequently insisted that he wanted to continue playing “beyond the 2021/2022 season”.

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However, Pirates ultimately decided that they couldn’t agree to a continued role in the playing squad, and bid farewell to Jele, who received an opportunity at Royal AM, which is set to represent a sensational final chapter to his career.

Jele has suggested he will continue playing next season, but then would like to take up a role back at Orlando Pirates.

“I think they waited for me because what I remember, when we had talks, I said I wanted to go and play and the club gave me that blessing to say, ‘go and finish and once you feel you are okay, you can come’…the door is still open,” said Jele as per Sowetan Live.

“So when I retire, I think I will go there and talk to them and see what’s going to happen. We can’t predict the future. If the job is no longer there, it’s fine, I need to go somewhere else and work but for now the ball is still in our court, me and the team [Pirates].

“For now, I am still taking care of myself and I can still run with the young guys. God will lead me to say ‘now it’s time to retire, my boy’. I am still a Royal AM player and I won’t reveal for how long. They want to compete with bigger teams…they want to win trophies for themselves, so for me it is just to be there and try my best to help the team.”

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Jele had won two league titles, two Nedbank Cups, a Telkom Knockout competition and been part of three MTN8 title successes, but initially couldn’t settle at a new club after parting ways with Pirates.

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Former Orlando Pirates skipper Happy Jele could still end up at Royal AM. Photo: @orlandopirates/Twitter
Former Orlando Pirates skipper Happy Jele. Photo: @orlandopirates/Twitter


After 16 amazing years with us, we bid farewell to our future Hall of Famer.

Our central defender and Club Captain, who has reached the end of his contract, will be leaving the club. This marks the end of Happy Jele’s momentous career with us.

Orlando Pirates Football Club can confirm that Happy Jele met with the Chairman of the Club at the end of the 2021/22 season to discuss his future. During these deliberations, which spanned a three-week period, the Club discussed various job options available to the long-term serving defender in a non-playing capacity.

Subsequent to this meeting, the 35-year-old was afforded time to go home and think about it. 

Ordinarily, players are released at the end of the players’ contract but in Happy’s case, as he has a special place in the Club, having served the Club so professionally over the past 16 years, the Chairman had specifically asked the player for his input.

A follow-up meeting was held two weeks later where Happy expressed his intensions to continue playing football beyond the 2021/2022 season, an option that unfortunately is not available. 

Everyone at Orlando Pirates Football Club would like to express the enormous gratitude to Happy Jele and wish him the very best of luck for the future.

Happy arrived from the amateur club Walter Stars in 2006 as a lanky and unassuming 19 year old. Today, he leaves a place he has called home for the past 16 years as a legend, captain, husband and father.

In those 16 years, he won 8 trophies, made over 400 appearances and scored 18 goals.

Happy is a special character who has answered every call the Club has made of him throughout the years which is why he has a future at the Club beyond his playing days. Everyone at Orlando Pirates Football Club would like to express the enormous gratitude to Happy Jele and wish him the very best of luck for the future.

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