Jimmy Kirunda: Dark cloud hangs over Uganda football as a Legend passes on


A dark cloud has risen over the Ugandan football fraternity with the demise of legendary defender Jimmy Kirunda.
Kirunda collapsed around Le Grande Hotel, Bwaise earlier today and was pronounced dead by the time the ambulance reached Mulago Hospital.

According to his son Ivan, “he was having a routine walk when his heart finally gave way”.

Jimmy Kirunda a.k.a the Kaizer is arguably Uganda’s greatest defender ever. He captained the Cranes for 10 years, leading the team to 3 AFCON tournaments (1974, ’76 and ’78), winning 5 CECAFA titles (1969, ’70, ’73, ’76 and ’77 the latter two as captain).

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As a KCC player, he had a formidable partnership with Tom Lwanga winning the league in 1976, ’77 and ’81; the Uganda Cup in 1980 and ’84 plus the CECAFA Club championship in 1978.

Jimmy Kirunda during one of the games in his playing days | Courtesy photo

That same year, he set a record of 32 league goals as topscorer and it lasted until 1999 when Andrew “Fimbo” Mukasa struck 45 goals. He had semi-professional stints in UAE (1979-80) and a controversial transfer to SC Villa in 1982 (winning a league title in ’82 and Uganda Cup in ’83)* just one season winning the Uganda Cup) in between his glittering KCC career for whom his brothers William “Bedford” Kityo and Dickson Bintanula also played after leaving Mulago, the hub that produced several stars like Magid Musisi, Twaha Kivumbi, Adam Ssemugabi among others.

He briefly came out of retirement in 1987 to feature for his Ngeye clan when the Bika football tournament was revived.
As a coach, he handled Bell FC, Buikwe Red Stars, and Cooperatives while as the Uganda Cranes national team manager, he lifted the CECAFA titles in 1989, ’90 and ’92.

He has been an employee of the Federation of Uganda Football Associations as Personal Assistant to former president Lawrence Mulindwa.

He belongs to an exclusive class of players to have featured for all 3 VEK clubs having joined KCC from Express in 1969. The others include Godfrey Kateregga “superstar”, Livingstone Mbabazi, Morley Byekwaso, Ibrahim Kongo, Ibrahim Kizito, Allan Kyambadde, Simon Sserunkuma, and Steven Bengo.

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