Kaizer Chiefs Profile

Major Honours League titles (Currently known as DStv Premiership) (12), MTN 8 (15), Telkom Knockout (13), Nedbank Cup (13), African Cup Winners' Cup (1)
Year Founded 1970

Kaizer Chiefs are one of the biggest and best-supported clubs in Africa and are one of the 'big three' of South African soccer. With plenty of trophies and honors, this is their story.

Kaizer Chiefs are a soccer club based in Johannesburg, South Africa. They are the best supported sports team in South Africa and are arguably the most successful.

Known affectionately as 'Amakhosi' and 'the Phefeni Glamour Boys', Chiefs have had a tremendous impact on pop culture. Lucas Radebe, who became Leeds United captain after playing for Chiefs, inspired the name of the British rock band Kaiser Chiefs.

The name of the soccer club is in reference to founder Kaizer Motaung senior, who remains club chairman today. It also draws inspiration from Atlanta Chiefs, for whom Motaung played.

Chiefs and their formation

When iconic former Orlando Pirates player Kaizer Motaung returned to South Africa from a stint in the USA, he was greeted by turmoil and infighting within his former club.

Initially, Motaung tried to act as a peacemaker. However, he was unable to resolve the conflict and ultimately founded Kaizer Chiefs, a club intended to serve as a home for expelled Orlando Pirates players.

Kaizer Motaung, founder of Kaizer Chiefs

Not everyone welcomed Chiefs' presence in the game, but they soon justified their place in South African soccer, winning the 1974 league title. They were also very successful in cup competitions in the 1970s, most notably winning the BP Top Eight in 1973, 1974 and 1976.

In 1976, iconic team manager Ewert 'The Lip' Nene was killed while in Springs to sign Nelson 'Teenage' Dladla. The perpetrators were hooligans who did not want Dladla to sign for Chiefs. As it turned out, Dladla signed for Chiefs anyway and became a club legend, sporting the number 11 jersey.

In 1978, despite the brutal apartheid regime, multiracial soccer was introduced to South Africa. The same year, Lucky Stylianou became the first white Kaizer Chiefs player.

Also in the 1970s, Chiefs became the first black club to beat a white one in South Africa when they saw off Hellenic 2-1 at Rand Stadium.

Chiefs followed up their 1974 league title success with further triumphs in 1977 and 1979.

Chiefs endured a difficult period in the 1980s but were steered through it by players such as Johannes 'Ryder' Mofokeng and Marks Maponyane.

They enjoyed great success in the cup competitions, winning the league in 1981 and 1984. By 1989, they had another league title-winning squad brimming with talented players. This included legendary midfielder Doctor Khumalo, a Kaizer Chiefs youth product who was promoted to the first team by Romanian coach Ted Dumitru.

From 1989 to 1994, Chiefs were graced by a player who still today arguably remains their most famous of all time, Lucas Radebe. At the end of his stint with Amakhosi, he left for Leeds United, where he became captain and stayed for 11 years.

Chiefs were league champions in 1991, 1992 and 1996.

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) was founded in 1996 and the modern era of South African soccer began. Naturally, Kaizer Chiefs were among the founding members.

The 2001/02 season

The 2001/02 season was one of contratsing fortunes for Kaizer Chiefs.

Chiefs finished a lowly ninth in the league, but won the Vodacom Challenge, the BP Top Eight, the Coca-Cola Cup and the African Cup Winners' Cup within the space of four months.

It came off the back of the Ellis Park Disaster on April 11, 2001. Forty-three people were crushed to death when spectators poured into the Ellis Park Stadium to watch Chiefs play Orlando Pirates.

Back-to-back Premier Soccer League titles

In 2003/04, with Dumitru once again presiding over Kaizer Chiefs as coach, they won their first league title of the PSL era. They finished six points above Ajax Cape Town and conceded only 11 goals across the 30-game season.

Chiefs followed that up with another league title in 2004/05. Dumitru's side overtook Orlando Pirates to clinch the title on the final day of the season.

Chiefs return to the top

Following the two Premiership titles in a row under Dumitru, Chiefs took a backseat for several years. Mamelodi Sundowns won the next two league titles and SuperSport United the following three before back-to-back titles for Orlando Pirates.

Ahead of the 2012/13 campaign, Stuart Baxter was appointed Kaizer Chiefs coach. Despite losing his first competitive match 4-1 to Mamelodi Sundowns in the MTN8, Baxter led Chiefs to the 2012/13 league title.

Despite losing it to Mamelodi Sundowns during the following campaign, Baxter and Chiefs regained it with a team built off a rock-solid defensive unit in 2014/15.

Kaizer Chiefs players celebrate lifting the Premiership trophy in 2015

Chiefs' recent mixed fortunes

Baxter left Kaizer Chiefs in 2015 and was replaced by Steve Komphela. Unfortunately for the Amakhosi faithful, Komphela was unable to halt a rampant Mamelodi Sundowns side. Buoyed by the investment of billionaire owner Patrice Motsepe and the astuteness of iconic coach Pitso Mosimane, Sundowns dominated South African soccer and even became African champions in 2016.

After three years without a trophy, Komphela resigned as Kaizer Chiefs coach. This followed fan violence in April 2018, which erupted at the Moses Mabhida Stadium after his side exited the Nedbank Cup at the semi-final stage.

Komphela was replaced by Giovanni Solinas ahead of the 2018/19 season, but after a disastrous start, he was replaced midway through by Ernst Middendorp. Despite being an unpopular appointment, Middendorp assembled a competitive team that led the way for much of the 2019/20 league season. However, a 1-1 draw to Baroka on the final day of the campaign meant they lost the title to Mamelodi Sundowns.

Ahead of the 2020/21 campaign, Middendorp was replaced by Gavin Hunt. The man who led SuperSport United to three league titles on the trot and also won one with Bidvest Wits has now been tasked with ending the longest trophy drought in Kaizer Chiefs' history.

The Soweto derby

Naturally, with Chiefs having been founded by a former Orlando Pirates icon, Pirates are their biggest rivals. The two teams contest the Soweto derby. It is usually played at FNB Stadium but draws in a full house even when it is played in other areas of the country.

The original Soweto derby was contested between Orlando Pirates and Moroka Swallows. However, after Chiefs usurped both as the dominant force in South African soccer, the rivalry between Chiefs and Pirates intensified and it has been the biggest match-up of the season for more than 50 years.

Chiefs' rivalry with Mamelodi Sundowns has grown in recent seasons, as Sundowns have been South Africa's most successful side in the PSL era. Chiefs, Pirates and Sundowns are known as the 'Big Three' of South African soccer.

Chiefs and their fanbase

Kaizer Chiefs developed the 'Love and Peace' motto as a way of getting the message out to soccer fans that they must not participate in fan violence. This was at a time when it was rife in the South African game.

It is a common sight before Kaizer Chiefs home matches for Chiefs players to make a 'peace' sign to the crowd, with the crowd reciprocating, respecting the Love and Peace club motto.

Chiefs play most of their home matches at the near-95,000-capacity FNB Stadium, although they do not own it. Wherever Chiefs go in South Africa, their supporters tend to outnumber the opposing team's. It is therefore commonly joked that there are no away matches for Chiefs.

Kaizer Chiefs and finances

It has been widely reported that Kaizer Chiefs is the second richest club in African soccer, behind only Egyptian giants Al Ahly. However, not much is known regarding the true market value of Kaizer Chiefs.