President Yoweri Museveni, yesterday, honoured former Uganda Cranes captain Denis Onyango for his assiduous service with a car worth an estimated Shs150m and promises for much more.
The goalkeeper, who recently retired after Uganda’s failure to make the Africa Cup of Nations for a third successive tournament, was hosted at State House, Entebbe.
“I congratulate Onyango for what he’s done. We shall get time and discuss what we can do with this export of skill,” Museveni said. He gave the goalkeeper a brand new Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.
Onyango was part of the Uganda Cranes for 16 years. The 2016 Caf African Footballer of the Year represented Uganda at two Africa Cup of Nations, in 2017 in Gabon and 2019 in Egypt.
In the first instance, Cranes ended a 39-year absence from the Afcon while Onyango, now eight days shy of his 36th birthday, was captain of the team that reached the last 16 in Cairo.
The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sport Mama Janet Museveni is sad to see him leave. “It’s a sad affair which we cannot do much about,” she said.
“I wish Onyango had come to discuss his idea of departure before going away, it’s possible we would have done something. I thank Onyango for giving us much pride as a country with his heroic efforts.”
Greatest Ugandan athlete
Arguably the greatest sports personality, Onyango came to the event with his mother and promised to play on for three more years. He gave the First Family his framed jersey.
Since that final qualifying game in Malawi in March, Mike Azira and Hassan Wasswa have retired too amid criticism of the national team by Fufa president Moses Magogo sparking controversy.
In appreciating Onyango, Magogo, flanked by government sports technocrats and Fufa officials, reminded the President Museveni of the financial needs to run the national team.
“There is need for continuity of talent. When you finish playing, you must be developed to become a coach. This is a process that is expensive and must be supported,” Magogo said.
He also told the gathering that Cranes players are paid Shs50, 000 per day while in camp here and US$50 when they travel. In addition, Fufa pays $1,000 (Shs3.7m) in appearance fees and $2, 000 (Shs.72m) for each win, Magogo said.
Onyango flew into the country yesterday morning in the middle of a busy period at his club side Mamelodi Sundowns. They are top of South African Premier Soccer League with five games to play.
Today, Onyango will be hosted by Parliament before departing of his club’s league visit to TS Galaxy on Sunday.
Next week, Sundowns face Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the Caf Champions League quarterfinals. They last won the continental title in 2016.
Feats: Onyango was part of the Uganda Cranes for 16 years. The 2016 Caf African Footballer of the Year represented Uganda at two Afcon events; (2017 & 2019.
Full Name: Denis Masinde Onyango
Date of Birth: May 15, 1985
Height: 1.88m (6ft 2in)
Current club: Mamelodi Sundowns
Shirt Number: 14
2004–2005: SC Villa
2005–2006: St. George
2006–2010: Supersport United
2010–2011: Mpumalanga Black Aces
2011– 2012: Mamelodi Sundowns
2013–2014: Bidvest Wits
2015– Todate: Mamelodi Sundowns