Hlatswayo: ‘It will be a privilege to wear that Orlando Pirates jersey I admired so long’

Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo.
Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo.
Image: orlando pirates

Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo has said it is a dream come true for him to have “finally” joined Orlando Pirates after the tough defender was unveiled as a Buccaneer on Monday.

The 30-year-old was unveiled along with Namibian winger Deon Hotto‚ who both joined Pirates from now defunct Bidvest Wits.

“Thank you for the welcome. It means a lot to me and my family. I am delighted to have finally joined Orlando Pirates Football Club‚” the tough-tackling defender said in an interview with the club’s official website.

Soweto-born Hlatshwayo admitted that Pirates is his boyhood club and said that it is an honour and privilege to join Bucs.

“I know how long the club has been after my services over the years. Unfortunately‚ the club was not able to sign me for whatever reasons but thankfully now I am here‚ and I have both Bidvest Wits and Orlando Pirates management to thank for that.

“I have said before that one day I would like to join Orlando Pirates. I am happy that day has finally come.”

Hlatshwayo turned down a multi-million offer from Mamelodi Sundowns but accepted a lesser but still lucrative package from Pirates but did not name his suitors in his first interview as a Bucanneer.

“Honestly speaking there were other teams that were after my services but out of respect for them I won’t mention them. But as I’ve said earlier‚ I’ve always wanted to play for Orlando Pirates and secondly the club has been after me for a long time now.

“Obviously‚ growing up in Soweto‚ one always dreams of playing for one of the big teams and to play for Bafana Bafana. The timing was just right. I felt I was ready to make the move.”

SowetanLIVE reported last month that Hlatshwayo and Hotto would be among the top earners in the league next season as Bucs set their sights on closing the gap between themselves and rivals Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs.

Hlatshwayo made his Premiership debut for Ajax Cape Town in 2008 against Pirates in a winning cause.

“I recall that game very well. Nobody forgets his first game. We played against Orlando Pirates in the MTN8 at Ellis Park and I think we won the match 2-1‚” he said.

“A lot of good players were in that Pirates team – Teko Modise was playing for Pirates at the time. Even though I was wearing an Ajax shirt on the day‚ to see the team I supported as a young boy across the field from me was a surreal experience.

“And now that I am going to wear that [Pirates] jersey which I had admired for so long is a privilege for me.

“ … Growing up in Soweto all boys dream of playing for either Orlando Pirates or Kaizer Chiefs. I come from a family where most people support Pirates‚ except my mother who supports Chiefs.

“For me personally‚ I have always supported Pirates especially during the Kosta Papic era which had abo Tso Vilakazi‚ Joseph Makhanya and Lebohang Mokoena.

“So‚ I can say it’s definitely a dream come true for me to be playing for this team‚ a team with such a rich history.

“Our job now is to contribute to this history by getting the club back to where it belongs.”

PODCAST | Kaizer Chiefs' head scout chats about player selection in SA

X