By Alex Bossa
Every week, Ugsports will be running a top 5 series covering Ugandan sport both current and past including but not limited to personalities, teams and events.
This week we kick off with top 5 football exports from Uganda.
Over time, the exodus of players from the country to global clubs has been increasing. Gone are the days where it would take a microscope to get a Ugandan footballer in any of the top 20 European leagues with the late Majid Musisi becoming the first Ugandan footballer to join a European club directly from a Ugandan club. Ugsport.net explores who the top five exports to have represented the black, yellow and red flag abroad are.
5. Godfrey Walusimbi
Best Known as “Jjaja Walu”, Godfrey Walusimbi is the first and only Ugandan footballer to make more than 100 caps for the senior national team where he had made the left back position his own.
He started his footballing career with SC Villa in 2006 where he played 92 games, scoring 22 goals across a period of 4 years. Bunamwaya came in calling and in 2010 he joined the club where he played 34 games before departing for DRC’s CS Don Bosco in 2013 after a failed attempt to sign for BK Hacken in Sweden in 2011.
His spell at Don Bosco did not last long as the defender decided to cancel his contract on grounds of poor working conditions and later joined SC Villa.
With former Uganda Cranes coach Bobby Williamson at the helm of the then Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia, Jjaja Walu signed for the Kenyan club in December 2013. He instantly became a hit among most of the Kenyan soccer lovers. His 6 goals from 59 games in a period between 2014 -2018 was a fair return from a defender.
His performances in Kenya earned him a big money move to Kaizer Chiefs where he spent only one season before signing for Albanian side KF Vllaznia on a free transfer.
4. David Obua
Dubbed as “King David ”, David Obua spent 9 years abroad in his 13 years playing career which started with Police FC in 1999. At the start of the new millenium, Obua moved to Raleigh Capital Express in the United states where he played in 37 games and scored 18 goals.
In 2001, Obua moved to Wilmington Hammerheads, a semi professional club in the USA where he played 42 games and scored 19 goals. He had a short stint at Express from 2001 -2002 but quickly joined Mauritanian club As Port -Louis 2000 for the 2002/2003 season where he scored 15 goals in 19 matches but again returned to Express FC where he spent 2 years, from 2003 -2005.
The 2-1 loss against South Africa in the World Cup qualifier in 2005 was the turning point for Obua. He was spotted by South African giants Kaizer Chiefs and soon signed a 3 year contract, a period in which he won South African player of the year after winning the league in the 2006/2007 season.
A failed trial at English Premier League club WestHam United after the expiry of his contract at Kaizer Chiefs presented Obua a chance to join Hearts of Midlothian in the Scotish Premiership where his former Cranes coach had taken charge.
He spent 4 years at Hearts where he played 91 games and managed to score 6 goals. It was at Hearts that his playing career came to an end and was last seen as an assistant coach at Maroons FC and he sometimes acts as a pundit for Supersport especially during Uganda Cranes matches.
3. Ibrahim Ssekajja
Back in 2016, I made a long trip across the Atlantic Ocean to Peru. Communicating with the natives was the hardest due to language barrier. The same can be said by the former Uganda Cranes captain and current New York Red Bulls assistant coach.
The defender began his footballing career with KCC in 1997 where he represented the club until 2001. His six years stint in Argentina saw him play for Atletico Rafaela and Ferro Carril Oeste in the Primera B before rising in rank to play in the Primera A with Arsenal de Sarandi in 2005.
It was at Red Bull Salzburg where he made his mark after joining the Austrian giants from Argentina in 2007. His six seasons with Salzburg saw him win 3 Bundesliga titles, one Austrian cup title and was voted fan’s player of the season in 2009. Towards the end of his playing career in Austria, Ssekajja acquired club captaincy.
In 2013, Ssekajja decided to join New York Red bulls, a sister club to Red Bull Salzburg where he shared the same dressing room with Arsenal Legend Thierry Henry and he has since gone on to become one of the club’s first team coaches.
2. Majid Musisi
Arguably the first Ugandan footballer to sign for a European club, Musisi signed for Stade Rennes from SC Villa in 1992 and immediately made his mark in the French Ligue 2 and Coupe de France.
His 18 goals in 64 matches earned him a transfer record for a Ugandan footballer by then of $1million to Turkish first division side Bursaspor in 1994.
It is at Bursaspor where the goal gladiator made his presence well known to football lovers after scoring 31 goals in 77 matches from 1994 to 1997.
He was voted the best foreign player of the year in 1996 and his famous crocodile celebration in the 1995 intertoto cup match against German side Karlsruher SC inspired the structure and design of the club’s famous crocodile stadium.
He later signed for another Turkish side Çanakkale Dardanelspor whom he netted for 29 goals from 79 games, between 1997 and 1999. He made a brief return to SC Villa between 1999 and 2001 and later Joined Vietnamese club SHB De Nang in 2002. His two-year spell with the club ended in 2004 before returning home to play for Ggaba United where he played until he met his creator in 2005 after a long battle with illness.
Although he has never played outside Africa, Denis Onyago’s club trophy cabinet contributed to the ranking ahead of legendary Majidu Musisi.
Onyango started his football career outside Uganda in 2005 when he signed for Ethiopia’s St George from SC Villa. He spent only one season in Ethiopia before Super Sport United came calling in 2006.
He was released by Super Sport United in 2010 and he decided to join Mpumalanga Black Aces FC. After the club faced relegation in 2011, Onyango was snapped up by Mamelodi Sundowns, a club he has represented since then, save for the 2013/2014 loan stint.
Since his arrival at Sundowns, Onyango has gone ahead to win the Premier Soccer League, CAF Champions League and in the process becoming the first Ugandan footballer to play at the FIFA club world cup. His goal keeping heroics in 2016 earned him the 2016 African – based African player of the year based at the awards in Nigeria. He has won a number of accolades including the best PSL goalkeeper of the season in 2015/2016 among others.
Geoffrey Massa, Jackson Mayanja, Moses Ouloyah and Emmanuel Okwi.