THABO Matlaba still hurts that he is no longer with Orlando Pirates.

But he is also relieved that he could finally get off the stands and get more game time.

The former Bucs captain is now a free agent and is already linked with Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United.

Gladwin Shitolo, Phetso Maphanga, Diamond Thopola and Caio Marcelo have been shipped off to Port Elizabeth-based outfit Chippa United, following the likes of Jackson Mabokgwane, Abubbaker Mobara, Ayanda Nkosi and Thabo Qalinge out of the Buccaneers.

But contrary to the club’s statement on Friday, Matlaba did not decline a reduced offer to extend his stay at the club.

“All that Thabo wanted was to play. It wasn’t just about the money,” Matlaba’s agent Abbie Rasimphi explained.

“I don’t think other clubs can meet a quarter of what Thabo was earning at Pirates, not that I am undermining them.

“Thabo had a good relationship with the chairman (Irvin Khoza), who treated him like his own son. But unfortunately he would not interfere with the coaching staff,” Rasimphi added.

“He was well paid and that’s where the attachment came from, if any team can match that it’s okay, but it’s not all about the money.

“He was well looked after and was loved at Pirates, that’s why he is still hurting.”

The 31-year-old former Bafana Bafana defender was part of the team that won the treble in 2012 and had grown attached to the club after spending seven and a half years there.

But he only played a total of seven matches in all competitions last season.

As a free agent, he is now keeping his options open before he can decide on his next destination.

Rasimphi revealed that although they knew that Matlaba’s contract would be coming to an end this month, they had not entertained any offers from other teams.

He said they would sit down today (Monday) to plot a way forward for Matlaba.

Rasimphi continued: “I don’t think there would be a problem with regards to where he ends up because he did not leave on bad terms. He got the full blessing from the chairman.

“But we will sit down and asses his options. Everything will be clear by the end of the week.”