401 matches, 8 trophies: Orlando Pirates legend retires

Orlando Pirates supporters won’t ever forget this player. Happy Jele has confirmed he is no longer a professional footballer.


Talking on Karabo Selebalo Phasha’s YouTube channel, the 37-year-old player from Middelburg in Mpumalanga revealed that he is no longer playing.


Former Orlando Pirates Captain Happy Jele CONFIRMS to me for the 1st time EVER that he has OFFICIALLY RETIRED from professional football.

𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐤 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐅𝐨𝐫 𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐒𝐊𝐈𝐏𝐏𝐄𝐑! #OrlandoPirates #OnceAlways #DstvPrem pic.twitter.com/Y3vFv2qiq4

— Karabo Selebalo Phasha (@TheeSportsGuy01) May 15, 2024

Jele’s retirement comes after spending five months at Royal AM in 2023. The Orlando Pirates legend left the Buccaneers in July 2022 after a remarkable 16 years wearing black and white.

Jele had joined as a teenage from Walter Stars. The right-back, who later turned into a central defender, made 401 appearances for Orlando Pirates, while also winning eight trophies. His international career included two caps for South Africa’s U20s, as well as two Bafana Bafana call-ups.


2x DStv Premiership

2x MTN 8

2x Nedbank cup

2x Telkom KnockOut.


“After 16 amazing years with us, we bid farewell to our future hall-of-famer,” Orlando Pirates stated on 18 July 2022, as quoted by Times LIVE.

“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 can confirm that Happy Jele met with the chair of the club [Irvin Khoza] at the end of the 2021-2022 season to discuss his future. During these deliberations, which spanned a three-week period, the club discussed various job options available to the long- serving defender in a non-playing capacity.

“Subsequent to these meetings, 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 Pirates so professionally over the past 16 years, the chair specifically asked the player for his input.

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

“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 eight 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 would like to express the enormous gratitude to Happy Jele and wish him the best of luck for the future,” the statement concluded.