Happy Jele: Why I have unfinished business in the Caf Champions League with Orlando Pirates

The 31-year-old versatile defender reunited with Micho at the Soweto giants prior to start of the 2017/18 season

Orlando Pirates veteran Happy Jele is enjoying working with Serbian coach Milutin ' Micho' Sredojevic again. 

The defender, who is the longest serving player in the current Bucs squad, was part of the team during Sredojevic's first spell in charge of the Soweto giants in 2006.

Jele was on his debut season with the Buccaneers when Micho guided the team to the 2006 Caf Champions League semi-finals where they lost to Tunisian giants CS Sfaxien

"The coach (Sredojevic) went and came back and he found me still here. There’s a lot that’s different with him," Jele told IOL.

"They say with more years, the more you grow as a person. He has grown in football. There are a lot of things he is teaching us. He and Rhulani (Mokwena) have been doing great things for the team," he continued. 

Jele then helped the Buccaneers reach the 2013 Champions League final where they lost to Egyptian giants Al Ahly with the lanky defender watching from the stands. 

“It was sad because I wanted to play in that final that day but I couldn’t because of suspension,” he said.

“I wished I could help the team. I think that the guys did their best that day and they were just unlucky not to win the trophy," he added.

Bucs qualified for next season's Champions League after Micho transformed the team into PSL title challengers and they finished second in the league. 

“We are going there and we have to fight again. Orlando Pirates is a big team and deserve to be in the Champions League," Jele stated.

"We have to keep on going and try to be in the final again. Reaching the Champions League final was the highlight of my career, so did winning those back-to-back trebles," he explained. 

Jele has won seven major trophies with the Soweto giants including two PSL titles during his 12-year stay at the Houghton-based side.

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“I am honoured to be playing for such a team this long. I am blessed. I don’t have a lot of words for it,” Jele said.

“To play for a big team in South Africa for 12 years is big. I haven’t even thought of retiring. I just want to continue repaying this team for all they have done for me," he added.

“They’ve been there for me through all my hard times. They have helped me a lot so they deserve to get more trophies through my effort," he concluded.