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The Buccaneers skipper will continue to be an important part of the Soweto club's squad, following a season in which his services were invaluable

Orlando Pirates' battle-hardened warhorse and captain Lucky Lekgwathi will celebrate his 36th birthday on August 1.

The veteran defender – a prominent figure in a team that has cemented its status as the dominant force in local football by winning six trophies in two seasons – has decided against calling time on a football career whose direction will come into perspective when his contract with Pirates runs out in 2013.

"No, I am not retiring," Lekgwathi told

"I have received a lot of encouragement from my team-mates and family (not to retire) and I have decided to carry on. I am prepared to carry on fighting for my place in the team," added the Pirates skipper, who besides marshalling the team’s defence also scored vital goals for his club during their 2011-12 campaign.

He might be at the other side of 30, but Lekgwathi – together with team-mate Benni McCarthy and Moroka Swallows striker Siyabonga Nomvethe – is part of a group of experienced, senior players who have defied the odds by remaining relevant to the physical demands of the game.

McCarthy and Nomvethe – who will turn 35 this year – scored 30 League goals between them to leave a lasting impression in South African football circles.

Such exploits from his peers, coupled by a strong, unwavering desire to win the Caf Champions League, have fuelled Lekgawthi's passion to continue wearing the black and white strip that has become something of a 'second skin' to him since his move to Pirates from Ria Stars twelve years ago.

His commitment and loyalty to the club has not gone unrecognised. "To us, Lucky has nothing to prove," remarked Orlando Pirates spokesperson Mickey Modisane.

"He is the captain of the team and will remain the captain because he is very important. He has led by example as a committed, disciplined player, both on and off the field of play," said Modisane.