Whenever Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs do battle Soweto, and most of South Africa actually, comes to a standstill. The supporters of these two bitter rivals enjoy surprisingly tolerable relations unlike the Rangers and Celtic fans in Scotland for example. However that does not mean that they have to be friends. It has happened that school playgrounds, offices, factory floors and even families have been divided in the build-up to derby day. Who will reign the day? Will it be the glamour boys from Phefeni, Amakhosi, or the Buccaneers from Orlando West?
With that in mind, how dare any player actually don both club’s colours? This amounts to sacrilege. However the supporters generally welcome the incoming player with open arms while his former fans will despise him and write him off as a double agent or even as a Judas. Here is a look at some of the most famous players who have dared to cross the Great Divide.
Sizwe Motaung is one of those rare players who have played for Chiefs, Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns and arguably the best of the bunch to have done so. One of the greatest right-backs ever to emerge from South Africa, Motaung also enjoyed spells in La Liga in the 1990s with Tenerife. After returning to his home country, Motaung joined Kaizer Chiefs and then crossed the Great Divide to join Pirates.
Pollen Ndlanya made an impact on both sides of Soweto. At Kaizer Chiefs Ndlanya won the league in 1990 and the 1998 Rothmans Cup, while at Pirates he won the 2000/01 league title as well as the BP Top 8 in the same season.
Ndlanya actually played for Amakhosi thrice after leaving in 1992 to join Chatsworth Rangers before returning in 1995. After a short stint in Turkey with Bursaspor he was back at Naturena in 1998. After a brief role at AmaZulu, Ndlanya did the unthinkable and joined up with Gordon Igesund at Orlando Pirates.
Zwane only played 12 matches for Orlando Pirates back in the inaugural 1996/97 PSL season. In 2000 Zwane moved from Tembisa Classic to Kaizer Chiefs and that is when his career really took off.
But the deal was complicated as Pirates claimed that he was still their player, while Chiefs claimed that Lesley Manyathela was their player. It was agreed that Zwane join Amakhosi while Manyathela moved the opposite direction. Zwane won three trophies with the Glamour Boys in 2001/02.
After making his name at African Wanderers, Nomvethe moved to Chiefs when his old club was relegated. ‘Bhele’ was a much-decorated footballer at Naturena before he transferred to Italy where he played for three different clubs. The striker would also play in Sweden for Aalborg but not before a 14-match stint with Orlando Pirates where he scored four goals. These days Nomvethe is showing no signs of slowing down as he continues to bang in the goals for the other Soweto club, Moroka Swallows.
Jabu Pules’s best days were certainly at the start of his career as a promising youngster with Kaizer Chiefs. Pule came through the youth ranks and following his 1999/2000 promotion under Muhsin Ertugral he became an instant fan favourite. However Pule also showed early signs of instability and his career never truly took off despite a few trophy successes along the way. After changing his name to Mahlangu, he joined Pirates in 2005/06 but his best days were already behind him. After only 30 appearances and two goals, Mahlangu left Bucs.
Gert Schalkwyk is yet another famous Kaizer Chiefs player who moved to Orlando Pirates after his best days were behind him. Schalkwyk joined Chiefs in 2004/05 and won the Absa Cup and SAA Supa 8 while at Naturena.
However a gradual decline in form saw him move on loan to Bloemfontein Celtic and eventually end up at Pirates in 2009/10 in a surprise move.
Jimmy Tau was a beloved Buccaneer and is one of a select few who actually moved directly from Chiefs or Pirates to the other. After just three seasons at the Orlando Stadium, Tau moved up the road to Naturena in 2005 and to this day the move is still much talked about.
Tau won just one trophy at Pirates but at Kaizer Chiefs he won many trophies, including the 2006 Absa Cup and SAA Supa 8, 2008 MTN8, and the Telkom Knockout twice – to mention just a few.
The Zambian has yet to cover himself in glory at Pirates and the reality is it will be hard for him to top what he did at Chiefs. Mbesuma joined the Glamour Boys halfway through the 2003/04 season but it was in the next campaign where he truly announced himself with a staggering 35 goals. That led to a move to England with Portsmouth. After struggling to make an impact at two other European clubs Mbesuma returned to Africa and now finds himself mostly warming the bench at the Buccaneers.
Majoro is the latest player to have made the move across town. After making the headlines with his performances at AmaZulu, the sharpshooter made the move to Gauteng to join Kaizer Chiefs in 2011. After two-and-a-half seasons with the Glamour Boys Majoro began fighting with the club to be released from his contract. Originally Majoro was to move to Pirates in the January transfer window but after the initial deal fell through, ‘Major’ was released from his Amakhosi contract and free to join their cross-town rivals on a free transfer. Majoro made his Bucs bow on Wednesday night against Moroka Swallows.