Orlando Pirates

Brief History on Orlando Pirates

Start a discussion about football in South Africa and one name will certainly come up along the way. This name is Orlando Pirates. Orlando Pirates is a football team in South Africa which ranks as arguably the most popular of all football teams. The team plays in the top tier of South African football that is, the Premier Soccer League.

The club was founded 84 years back in 1937. At the time of its inception, the team was known as Orlando Boys Club. It’s generally believed that the club was formed by the residents of Soweto largely the rural folks coming into the neighborhood in search of jobs in the gold mines of Gauteng. As the unemployed folks spent much of their time outdoors in informal groupings, they started to play social football for recreational purposes.

The social games drew the attention of many people and one such person is Buthuel Mokgosinyane. In 1940, Buthuel Mokgosinyane decided to turn the social club into a professional club as he bought a team kit which became the very first Orlando Boys Club kit. The success story of Orlando Boys Club soon spread across the wider region prompting other teams to spring up. In no time, a small league had been organized dubbed the Johannesburg Bantu Association’s Saturday League.

Via the Johannesburg Bantu Association’s Saturday League, Orlando Boys Club managed to find its way to the top tiers of the South African football system. When the team gained promotion to Division One, a club member by the name Andrew Bassie suggested a name change. It is at this juncture that the name Orlando Pirates was proposed and up until now, the team is known as Orlando Pirates.

Major Accomplishments

Orlando Pirates is one of the most decorated teams in South Africa. The team has won the league on 9 occasions with 4 of those coming in the revamped Premier Soccer League. Orlando Pirates has also been a league runner up on six occasions.

On the domestic cup competitions front, Orlando Pirates has lifted the Nedbank Cup trophy on eight occasions with the recent victory coming in 2014. In 2011, Orlando Pirates won its first and only Telkom Knockout trophy. The team has won the MTN 8 trophy on eight occasions with the latest victory coming as recent as 2020.

On the international front, Orlando Pirates is one of only two South African clubs to have won the prestigious CAF Champions League trophy. The team won the Champions League trophy in 1995. Under its belt, Orlando Pirates is also a winner of the CAF Super Cup (1996) and a runner up of the CAF Confederation Cup (2015).

Top Players

Over the years, Orlando Pirates has managed to showcase the talents of dozens of footballers. There are none however who have engraved themselves in the minds and hearts of Orlando Pirates fans than the following:

  • Jomo Sono (his love for Pirates at one point saw him abandon his wedding to go rescue his team)
  • Jerry Sikhosana (endeared himself with Pirates fans when he scored the only goal that helped Orlando Pirates win the CAF Champions League in 1995)
  • Mark Fish (a staunch defender who was crucial during the time Pirates won the CAF Champions League as well as the CAF Super Cup.
  • Helman Mkhalele (a diminutive and highly creative player who orchestrated all the good things in the opponents’ half in Pirates run to win its first ever international cup)
  • Steve Lekoela (a great visionary whose defense splitting passes could break-up any defense)