KPL Players Who Played With God

They played and prayed.  To them it was not just a game – but a service to the Good Lord. Most footballers in Kenya are basement dwellers, hoof eaters – often born and bred in the toughest of environments; places where life is harsh, short and brutish.


In Nairobi, for example, this description fits very well with the estates in Eastlands or the slums like Mathare, Kibra, Baba Dogo, Kariobangi, Kawangware and the Mukurus.

Footballers born in these slums are socialised to curse, fight, quarrel, fight and defend oneself against any opponent verbal or physical. No wonder it is not very easy to find a boy from ‘Babylon’ presenting himself as a talented footballer capable of playing for any club in Kenya’s football league. In the history of Kenya’s football, only JJ Masiga was a product of an upper class family. All the others are products of either the middle class or underprivileged.

Football is a game of cheating your way past your opponent, deceiving the referee, denying the truth, sabotaging, contesting honest decision and trying to hurt or injure your opponents. This is the background where some players claim to be saved from or born again.

After playing for many years, George Nyangi Odembo decided to be a servant of the lord. After hanging his boots, Nyangi relocated to the USA with his wife Anne. They nowadays run their own evangelical mission where Nyangi a.k.a Artillery who was known for his thunderous kicks is nowadays a preacher.

On his part, after coming back home from Cape Town where he played for Sanlam Santos, Musa Otieno keeps on invoking the name of Jesus Christ in his pronouncements. He believes his success was the work of God who made him play and retire in one piece.

Then there is Peter ‘Pinchez’ Opiyo whose Facebook page is full of quotes from various verses in the bible. He is also a retired international football player.

Former AFC leopard’s creative midfielder Johnson Keffa Tasso – currently based in the USA – also got born again and is nowadays an accomplished believer in the word of God.

The Kenyan players have followed the example of Nigerian Taribo West and Brazilian Kaka who were players and preachers at the same time. After a tumultuous childhood, but with a successful football career, West runs his own church in Milan Italy where he nowadays spends his retirement days peacefully.

James Odawa, a midfielder in the Bernard Zgoll Harambee Stars in the late ‘70s is also a pastor in Siaya. In his prime days, he was based in Nakuru playing for KFA FC while growing up in the deadly estates of Nakuru town.

Amos Nandi, the most successful team managers who was in charge at Gor Mahia when they clinched a continental trophy in 1987 dropped all he was doing including a very promising career in the corporate world to become a preacher of the word of God. Gone are the days when he could be amongst those plotting the downfall of opponents including doing ‘research’ against opposing players.

Other players who are today born again include Melitus Okello formerly of AFC Leopards and Jasper Obonyo formerly of Motcom.

Footballers indulge a lot in the common vices like womanising, alcohol, drugs and wild parties. Those who may have seen the light are lucky because a footballer’s life can be very unforgiving especially in old age. Being born again could be the best antidote against all the bad things that wait to prey on them.

Share this: