Orlando Pirates legends: Top 10 all-time greats for The Sea Robbers

Orlando Pirates legends: Top 10 all-time greats for The Sea Robbers

Kevin Omuya
October 18, 2022 at 1:14 PM

The Orlando Pirates football club was founded in 1937 in Orlando East, Soweto, making it one of the oldest in South Africa. Young footballers have been motivated by the club's success to wear the club's black and white colors and pursue careers in professional soccer. Let us look at the Orlando Pirates legends of all time.

Orlando Pirates legends
Benny McCarthy of West Ham United. Photo: AMA/Corbis
Source: Getty Images

Rivalries in the South African top league between the Sea Robbers and Kaizer Chiefs have, over the years, produced skilful and talented footballers. The Sea Robbers have seen several top footballers pass through their ranks.

Top 10 all-time greats for The Sea Robbers

The following list includes the top ten players in Orlando Pirates' history. While some players have officially left the sport, others are still actively involved in the industry as coaches or general managers for various teams.

10. Shakes Mashaba

Orlando Pirates legends list
Orlando Pirates legend Shakes Mashaba. Photo: @EphraimShakesM on Twitter
Source: UGC

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After a turbulent youth, Mashaba has settled down and established himself as a recognized instructor. In the 1970s, he was a star central defender for the Sea Robbers and a capable scorer. A stalwart in defense of the lore of the Orlando Pirates.

9. John Moeti

Orlando Pirates legends defenders
John Moeti, South Africa. Photo: Matthew Ashton
Source: Getty Images

The legend of the Orlando Pirates was a short defensive midfielder who played every game for his team and never let them down. He led the Sea Robbers to two Afcon finals, including the 1996 title game, and was instrumental in their 1995 African triumph.

8. Webster Lichaba

His success with the Sea Robbers in South Africa led to a transfer to the American club, where he played alongside players like Jomo Sono and Johannes Khomane for the Atlanta Chiefs. He left Jomo Cosmos and rejoined Bucs as captain after being released.

7. Edward Motale

Orlando Pirates legends players
Edward Motale of Orlando Pirates. Photo: @EdwardMotale on Twitter (modified by author)
Source: UGC

While Motale was only with the squad for a brief time, they won the league title, the African Champions Cup, the Caf Super Cup, and many more trophies during his time as a Nation Builder for South Africa in 1996. This hardworking player is the best option to play left-back for the Sea Robbers. He is widely regarded as one of the known biggest Orlando Pirates legends.

6. Benni McCarthy

Orlando Pirates legends of all time
Benni McCarthy celebrates scoring in a Moroka Swallows, and Orlando Pirates match at Volkswagen Dobsonville Stadium on November 5, 2011, in Dobsonville, South Africa. Photo: Lefty Shivambu
Source: Getty Images

Perhaps South Africa's finest player, McCarthy made history as the first Bafana Bafana star to win the European Champions League. Even though he was well past his prime when he played for Bucs, he still managed to win three titles in his brief two-year tenure with the powerhouses.

He is the first former Orlando Pirates player to manage a European club. For the time being, he coaches the strikers for Manchester United's first team. Plus, he is the first player from his country to win the Champions League.

5. Eric ‘Scara’ Sono

biggest Orlando Pirates legends
Orlando Pirates legend Erick Sono. Photo: @_wordperfect on Twitter (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Sono was one of the numerous players on this list who tragically passed away at a young age; he was killed in an automobile accident in the mid-1960s, just as his career was about to take off. The late '50s Sea Robbers captain had his start on the left wing before transitioning to a more central position. As a forward, his skill was crucial in making Pirates South Africa's best team.

4. Percy Moloi

best Orlando Pirates legends
Orlando Pirates legend Percy Moloi. Photo: @PercyMoloi on Twitter (modified by author)
Source: UGC

In the 1960s, Percy was a South African sensation who captivated audiences with his exceptional skills at the park's core. Additionally, in 1970 he scored the very first goal in the history of the Soweto Derby.

3. Helman Mkhalele

Orlando Pirates football legends
Helman Mkhalele. Photo: Mark Sanday
Source: Getty Images

He was a fantastic figure in his career, taking great joy in having the ball at his feet. In 1995, he won the African championship, and his speed, agility, and dribbling consistently troubled the continent's top defenders. Eventually, the Wideman was able to gain a transfer to the Turkish football league. He is among the best Orlando Pirates legends.

2. Jerry Sikhosana

Orlando Pirates legends
Orlando Pirates legend Jerry Sikhosana. Photo: @jerrysikhosana on Twitter (modified by author)
Source: UGC

With his game-winning goal in the final versus ASEC Mimosa, Legs of Thunder brought the 1995 Caf Champions League trophy back to Soweto with his Pirates. His ability to sprint past defenders in the final third was renowned, and that goal was just one of many game-winners he scored for the Bucs throughout his career. The Orlando Pirates football legend was the first player to score a hat-trick in a Soweto Derby

1. Jomo Sono

famous Orlando Pirates legends
South Africa's Coach Jomo Sono. Photo: Adam Davy
Source: Getty Images

Sono, undoubtedly the best player on the Orlando Pirates, sacrificed his wedding to help the squad. Some of his best years as a player were spent in North America, notably with Pele, where the famous Orlando Pirates legends dazzled with his all-around qualities and phenomenal dribbling ability. He had a chance to join Juventus, but work permit concerns derailed the transfer.

The Sea Robbers have spawned several professional football stars. As a result of the efforts of the team, one of the Orlando Pirates legends, Benny McCarthy, is coaching in Europe.

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Kevin Omuya
Kevin Omuya is a Content Writer with 4 years of experience who joined Sports Brief in 2022. In 2019 he held a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Digital Media from KCA University.