Happy Jele up the ranks in the Derby


Orlando Pirates captain Happy Jele will rubber-stamp his legendary status when he walks out in the latest edition of the Soweto Derby today.

The 34-year-old stands out as the most experienced player across both the Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs camps, with his footprint standing at 28 appearances in this fixture.   

This means Jele has played one more Derby than the Kaizer Chiefs pair of Itumeleng Khune and Willard Katsande, who both have 27.

Khune will not play on Sunday, while it is not a definite that Katsande will get minutes.

Jele has led Pirates in the last 11 games they have played on the domestic scene and is certain to play today, providing him with another opportunity to edge closer to the record of 31 derby games held by Siphiwe Tshabalala.

View the most-capped stars in the Soweto Derby below

The Pirates skipper made his Derby debut on May 10, 2008 finishing on the losing end with Chiefs winning 1-0 at Mmabatho Stadium at a time when Owen da Gama was in charge. That was to be the only Derby that he featured in through his first three years at Pirates.

He has since laboured on to 28 Derby appearances holding out as the only player at the club who has spent at least a decade in the team. 

Whenever Jele has played, Pirates have won nine and lost seven with 12 ending in draws including games that went to the penalty shootouts.

Jele has won two league titles, lifted the Nedbank Cup twice, one Telkom Knockout, three MTN8 titles and has runners-up medals for both the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup. 

Though a defender, he scores at an average of one per season and has 16 goals to his name.

With a start today, Jele will come within another game of matching Williams Okpara's record of most starts for Pirates.

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