Last Tuesday, David Otti drove to Nakivubo to watch league leaders KCC edge Simba 1-0. A week on, he was at Wankulukuku as Express drew 1-all with Masaka.
The former Uganda Cranes player and coach never wanted to miss the beautiful game he loved and lived for a large part of 70 years until his passing on at Case MedCare Hospital yesterday afternoon.
Preliminary medical reports showed he succumbed to pulmonary embolism before his body was transferred to Mulago National Referral Hospital for a conclusive post-mortem. This was still on-going by press time.
“He complained of chest pain this (yesterday) morning when the attendant was massaging his amputated leg,” Express team Muhamoud Kateregga told Daily Monitor at Case where the late’s wife Faith and one of his three sons came along. He is also survived by two daughters.
Otti’s leg was amputated last May following a near four-year battle against diabetes. During his time, he coached all the top three Ugandan clubs – Express, KCC and SC Villa.
He spread his wings across the region to work at Kenyan side Gor Mahia (1981-83), Somalia’s Mogadishu Municipal Council (1987-1990) and Rwanda’s outfit APR (1995-96) plus serving as National Council of Sports (NCS) general secretary.
It’s at Express where Otti is revered most having brought the club their first league title in almost two decades back in 1993. He also won three Uganda Cup titles while there.
The former Ugandan international was also in charge of the Ugandan teams that qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations in Cairo (1974) and Ethiopia (1976). The philosophical Otti, who also deputised coach Bobby Williamson in the last futile Nations Cup campaign, was never lost on hope.
“We can remember yesterday but for tomorrow, we only hope,” he explained his feelings after the amputation last year. Indeed, hope is his legend continues.
Many credit Otti for having discovered Philip Omondi and Magid Musisi, arguably the best two players this country has ever known.
Tom Lwanga, team manager Simba FC: Otti was a different coach. He had love and care for his players. He is one person who never blamed anyone when he commits a mistake. Football has lost a philosopher and may his soul rest in peace.
Matia Lule, head coach KCC FC: David has been like a parent. He taught me very many things in football. I looked at him beyond being a father to a grandfather. I thank God for his life. He made me what l am today.
Jimmy Ssemugabi, Fifa instructor: He has been like a brother. We met in 1962 and we were very tight. We used to play in the same positions, in defence and midfield. I thank God that l got a chance to train him in Coffee SC in the 70’s until he left. Nothing l can say except thank God for his life.
Muhamood Kateregga, Team manager Express FC: I referred to him as the godfather of football and teacher. He built me and coached me when l was in the youth side - U20. At Express, he wasn’t after money but teaching football which is not the case today.
Hassan Mutasa, Otti’s best friend: I knew much about him but what l can say is that; l met Otti when he had just come out from school in Gulu. We used to share the same house and play football together. Football in Uganda has lost a true coach and an administrator.
Sam Ssimbwa, head coach Express FC: He was a mentor and used to guide me on different issues off and on the pitch. The country has lost a lot. He was an open-minded man. As someone who worked with him, Otti was old but had the idea of football. I will miss him and may his soul rest in peace.
David Obua, Cranes player: I am so gutted, so gutted! I don’t know what to say! It hurts. It is just like when my dad passed away. I shed so many tears.
DAVID OTTI FACTFILE
1940: David Otti was born at his family home in Gulu District
1960-65: He played for Bitmastic Construction Football Club until it was banned. During this time, Otti also played for Uganda Cranes in the Gothage Cup
1966-73: Cut his niche in Coffee’s midfield winning the league title in 1990 under Jimmy Ssemugabi
1968: Was selected for the Uganda Cranes at the Africa Cup of Nations
1973: Upon the expansion of Cecafa, Otti was appointed national team coach. Uganda hosted and won the event under him
1974: Otti became team manager
1975: Won the Cecafa title in Zambia
1976: Led Uganda at the Nations Cup in Ethiopia. The team performed poorly and he was relieved of his duties.
1978: Won the league with Simba
1979: The war forced Otti into exile
1981-83: Coach of Kenyan side Gor Mahia
1983: Returned to Uganda to become general secretary of the National Council of Sports (NCS). In the meantime, he was taken on as coach of SC Villa on a part time basis
1984: Took on the Villa job fulltime. He resigned in April, 1985 after the club failed at Ceacfa.
1987-1990: Was coach of Mogadishu Municipal Council. Left Somalia when war to oust Said Barre (RIP) broke out
1990-94: Joined Express. Won Uganda Cup in 1991 and ’92. Delivered the league title in 1993 and completed a Cup hat trick in ‘94.
1995: Villa took him back for one month before he went to Rwanda’s APR where he tutored until 1996.
1997: Otti rejoined Villa but narrowly lost the league title to KCC. Paul Hasule (RIP) took over
1999-2000: Went to Military Police upon promotion and lost to Villa in the Uganda Cup final
2001-02: Was appointed coach of KCC for two years
2006/7: Worked with City Lads Super League
2008: When City Lads was relegated, Otti moved to Mbale-based CRO
2009: Worked with Express till his death
Compiled by Ismail D. Kigongo