Luso Legend: Eric Tinkler

Luso Legend: Eric Tinkler

The man in charge of Orlando Pirates these days is Eric Tinkler who not only enjoyed a successful international career with Bafana Bafana but was held in high regard during his days in Portugal too.

A hard-tackling midfield enforcer during his playing days, it was from Wits University that Tinkler’s career took off when he won a move to Vitoria Setubal in Portugal in 1992.

Tinkler’s time in Europe helped launch his Bafana Bafana career after Clive Barker drafted him into the national team to provide midfield support for the likes of Doctor Khumalo and Shoes Moshoeu, two of South Africa’s most talented attacking players of all time.

The consistent and reliable role that Tinkler played under Barker helped provide the platform for the team’s 1996-Africa Nations Cup triumph on home soil and after that Tinkler’s career made another turn.

He was out of Portugal after over 80 appearances for the Setubal first team and off to Italy to sign a contract with Cagliari. Following this, Tinkler won a move to Barnsley in England and continued to put in consistent performances.

A short stint back in Portugal followed with Uniao Tomas before Tinkler came back home to South Africa and played at Wits University once more. This is where his friendship with another ex-Wits player, Roger De Sa, continued to grow and the two of them later coached at Wits as well as Orlando Pirates.


De Sa would go on to coach Ajax Cape Town where he is currently thriving as the leader of a young and super talented squad, while Tinkler moved from his role as Pirates assistant coach to the head coach of the senior team.

Quiet and unassuming, Tinkler does not hog the headlines as a coach, which is the way he played the game too. And slowly but surely he has begun to build his own legacy at Prates.

The club are in the last 8 of the CAF Confederations Cup and are the only South African team left in the highest competition of African club football. With a recent away win over Tunisian side Sfaxien under his belt, Tinkler continues to show progress on the African continent and this past week he led his team to the Carling Black Label Cup title over arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs.


“My ambition is the same every season. We have the objective to win every competition we are participating in next season,” Tinkler tells

“First up is the MTN8. It’s important to get to the Final and win. Then it’s the League. We need to start on a positive note. Last season we didn’t win our first game. It is vital that we start very well next season and ensure we don’t create the gap again like we did last season.”

So what does the future hold for Tinkler?
It is always a tough job coaching Pirates with all the pressure that comes with the hot seat at Bucs. But Tinkler, just as he did when he played the game, likes to put his head down wand worry about the work on the field.

If he continues in that manner and his players do the business on the field, there is no reason why 2015/16 cannot be a success for the former Vitoria Setubal star!