As South Africa celebrates Youth Day, Orlando Pirates legend Happy Jele says being humble, working hard, and believing in a higher spirit, are the guidelines for this generation and the next one.
The 36-year-old Jele started his professional career at a young age and was signed by Orlando Pirates in 2006.
He had a roller-coaster ride with the Buccaneers and also experienced a dry spell.
But there were incredible highs as well, such as when Pirates won the treble on two occasions.
It is said that everybody wants the platform but nobody wants the process.
For Jele, there was no other way other than humble beginnings.
He was born and bred in uMhluzi, a township in Middelburg, Mpumalanga and that is where it all started for him.
From Mhluzi Primary to Sofunda Secondary where he completed his matric.
Former Orlando Pirates captain, Happy Jele says, “You know before, there were lots of school tournaments. There were Coca-Cola football stars. I was probably 15 years old. I played for my school and competed nationally.”
That was the beginning of good things for Jele.
“I got recognition from the scouts. The first coach was Pitso [Mosimane], then Doctor Khumalo, Linda Buthelezi and the fourth coach was Steve Komphela [Mamelodi Sundowns’ first-team coach]. They were so hard on us. We had to do some workshops. We were about 400 and they wanted nine.”
Jele was on the verge of joining Kaizer Chiefs’ development side when Pirates offered him a contract.
As South Africa commemorates Youth Day, Jele has a message for the young, up-and-coming generation.
“If you want to be consistent in the PSL [Premier Soccer League], you need to be humble, respect people, work harder and do some extra training on your own. People will see your effort. Pray a lot and don’t be ashamed, God will give you what you deserve,” adds Jele.
Jele holds the record for having the most appearances for Orlando Pirates.