In a press interview at Startimes Stadium Lugogo in 2017, Mike Mutebi spoke highly of KCCA FC’s Allan Okello. The tactician was full of praise for the 16-year-old, stressing that he had what it takes to take Ugandan football by storm – indeed he did.
“He is a wonderful player, very skilled and exceptional, if handled well, which we are going to do, he will be the next Messi, there is no doubt about that” Mutebi equated Okello to Argentina and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi during the presser.
And what happened in the years between was exactly as the gaffer predicted.
Okello moved to KCCA in the January window of the 2016/17 season alongside Mustafa Kizza, Noel Nasasira, Herbert Achai, Peter Magambo, and Kibuli SS teammate Julius Poloto.
He would later become one of the best players in Uganda over the next three years, winning two Uganda Premier League titles (2016–2017 and 2018–2019), two Uganda cup honors (2016–2017, 2017–2018), and one Pilsner Super 8 cup (2018) – and his individual accomplishments aplenty.
It was his early years at KCCA FC, however, that caught the eye of many around Africa and Europe.
Coming from a region of football legends, it seemed normal that the sport was the way to go for Okello. Prior to his days at KCCA FC, the youngster was plying his trade at the youth side Destiny Academy in Lira before joining KCCA feeder school Kibuli SS.
It was at the latter that he impressed scouts from the Kampala giants, who recognized his talent on the ball and immediately placed him in the academy.
Towards the beginning of the 2016/17 second half of the season, Okello signed a professional contract at the club, followed soon by his debut for the first-team.
The opportunity in the first team came on February 25, 2017. Okello started in a game against Onduparaka. His maiden goal wasn’t far away either, he received the ball inside the box following a failed free-kick clearance and firmly struck the ball into the top corner.
It was a clean strike that only touched the surface of how truly Okello was, but the fans in attendance got an early glimpse of the sort of player they had on their books. The left magician went ahead to score two more goals plus assisting twice on his debut.
The effort made Okello the youngest goalscorer in the club’s history at just 16 years. It was from this point that his name became a full-time feature on the team sheet – and KCCA FC reaped from it. Okello became a highly-reputed figure around Lugogo.
His ability to pick out moments during important matches continued later in the season, as it became clearer that KCCA FC had a real diamond in their hands. His breakthrough and form were rewarded with the award for 2016/17 Azam Uganda Premier League Young Player of the season. Additionally, he also helped KCCA FC retain the Uganda Premier League title.
Alongside Okello, they had several other up-and-coming talents, including Mustafa Kizza, Julius Poloto, Peter Magambo, Noel Nasasira, and Herbert Achai. Being the poster-boy of this team didn’t faze Okello, who was the youngest of the lot. He took the responsibility in his stride and, he continued to exhibit his talent on the continent too.
In the qualifying rounds of the CAF Champions League, nearly two weeks after his league debut, Okello announced himself on the continental level against South African PSL giants Mamelodi Sundowns coming on in the 80th minute of the game and his displays left the opponent’s tactician Pitso Mosmane sing praises for the starlet.
It was these performances from a player who was still so young that attracted so much interest, especially from clubs across the channel. Chatter about his future was rife, but Okello kept his head down and continued to improve.
Domestically, the 17-year-old built on the previous year. His streak of performances in big games continued. He netted in matches against Onduparaka, UPDF, and SC Villa as KCCA put on a muted title-challenge.
It was, however, in CAF Champions League that Okello continued to make the most noise. When KCCA were drawn against Al Ahly in the CAF Champions’ League group stages, Okello had a gala time.
In the first leg, at home, Okello was at his creative best, causing trouble for an inconsistent Al Ahly back-line that included Sabril Rahil, Mohamed Naguib, Saad Samir, and Mohamed Hany.
He was creating chances for his teammates and, after a promising 74 minutes, he would have his final say, assisting Saddam Juma’s long-range shot. KCCA FC enjoyed a big 2-0 home victory against the continental giants.
Unfortunately, it would be his last enjoyable evening on the continent. KCCA FC were knocked out of the competition after losing the second leg 4-3 at the Borg El Arab stadium in Alexandria and finishing third in group A, but there were plenty of positives to take from that campaign.
The Kasasiro Boys ended the Startimes Uganda Premier League campaign in second, just four points behind Vipers SC, but on a personal note, there was more success for the emerging attacker. He was nominated the Airtel FUFA Fan’s favorite player of the year 2018 while losing out the Airtel FUFA Most Valuable Player of the year 2018 to Vipers SC midfielder Moses Waiswa.
His consistency improved further at the turn of the year as he performed a formidable attacking role in the club’s journey to the 2018/19 league title. He was impossible to stop for most UPL opposition as KCCA sailed through the competition, hoping to seal an incredible league and cup double.
The season wasn’t finished there, though. KCCA FC marched all the way to the final of the CECAFA Kagame Cup, with Okello contributing heavily in the semi-final’s success against Green Eagles FC, which set up a final showpiece event against Azam FC. The Tanzanian side was dispatched 2-1 as KCCA won their first CECAFA title.
Okello’s stock was on the rise once again as he was named Airtel FUFA Player of the year 2019, becoming the youngest-ever to receive the award. This was after he was named Football 256 Football player of the year.
By this point, it was clear that his time at Lugogo was coming to an end, but he was determined to play in the CAF Champions League with the club.
On the continent, however, they didn’t fare quite as expected. KCCA FC were knocked out of the competition on the qualifying round by Angola’s Petro De Lunda but Okello showed his worth in the competition scoring against African Stars in KCCA’s 2-0 home win.
Following their elimination, Okello went on an impressive form netting KCCA’s lone goal as they fell 4-1 away from home to Algeria’s Paradou AC in the preliminary round of the CAF Confederations Cup.
It would later become clearer that these were Okello’s final months in Uganda as Algerian giants Paradou AC among others all circled around the attacker. The youngster’s time at KCCA FC was running down, but he only ramped up the style.
Okello played a total of 119 games for KCCA FC from which he scored 39 goals and a handful of assists.
The 20-year-old is now living the dream at Paradou AC under Francisco Chalo, but his three seasons at KCCA FC laid the foundation for a brilliant career. He came through as a budding youngster from Lira, made an early mark, learned from his mistakes, and left as a ‘big boy’.