Uganda has produced a fair bit of legends, perhaps the most in East Africa. From their catchy names to their captivating style of play, these players have been heroes to Ugandans and are admired throughout the nation.
The incredible success that Uganda has experienced down the years makes it hard to compile a list of the top 10 Ugandan players of all time; there are just so many worthy of recognition (Uganda’s legends).
Well, The Touchline Sports’ have given their opinion on the matter by ranking the best players to have ever hailed from Uganda.
The players on this list have been judged on a variety of factors. Success at the club and international level, longevity, big-game performances, legacy, and overall ability have been all taken into account, as has each star’s standing in the history of Ugandan football.
10. Paul Ssali ‘Gogolimbo’
Paul Ssali commonly known as Gogolimbo is arguably the best man to ever stand in the Uganda Cranes’ goalposts, He was in goal when the Cranes cruised to their best ever performance in the 1978 AFCON finals – a runner-up finish after being beaten 2-0 by hosts Ghana.
At club level, Ssali won 1 Uganda cup with Simba and 2 league cups and 3 Uganda cups when he joined KCC in his latter years before retiring from football in 1988.
9. Moses Nsereko
Nsereko joined KCC as a ball boy and left as a club legend. The central midfielder who was scouted by the then Club coach Bidandi Ssali, is one of the best passers of the ball in Ugandan history, was strong and speedy, and commanded the midfield in a free-flowing style.
He was an integral part of both KCC and the Cranes. He helped the Kasasiro Boys to 5 league titles, 3 Uganda cups, and 1 CECAFA Club Championship.
At the national team level, He inspired the Cranes to 3 CECAFA Senior Challenge titles and played in 2 AFCON tournaments.
8. John Latigo
A galloping fullback who never got his hands on any silverware with the Cranes despite captaining the national team for 5 years.
It was at KCC that Latigo established himself as the best fullback in Uganda, helping the Lugogo based side to 3 league titles, 5 Uganda Cup titles, and the 1978 CECAFA Club Championship.
7. Godfrey Kateregga
He needs no introduction, no one in Ugandan football had the star status like Godfrey Kateregga. He was nicknamed “Superstar” after becoming the first player to attain iconic status out of a flashy image.
The extremely controversial talented and revered striker also belongs to a class of the few players to have played for the Big 3 ( SC Villa, Express and KCC FC,), winning almost each and every title that came his way.
No player was more impressive in the early 1980s than Kateregga; he was arguably the finest dribbler, could bewilder an entire defense and together with Sam Mugambe, the pair made opponents look foolish as the crowd cheered to their fantasy game. Still, indiscipline remained his biggest undoing.
In 1980, for example, he infamously refused to be substituted against Mbale Heroes. Later in that game, he scored and raced to the KCC technical bench before spitting at the team manager Abdullahrahman Hippo. Then the following year, a fan abused him during a game against UCB. Kateregga identified his mocker and immediately after the match, responded by knocking him out cold.
Indiscipline aside, Kateregga topped KCC’s scoring charts in 1982 and 1983. His shooting ability, exquisite touch, and dominance in the air made him a deadly attacker. When Fred Musisi joined KCC from UCB in 1982, coach Moses Nsereko shifted Kateregga to the twin striking role in order to accommodate the newcomer. The new role allowed his artistry to flourish and become the club’s creative force.
At KCC, Kateregga won 2 league titles and 4 Uganda Cups before he joined SC Villa to win 2 league titles, 1 Uganda Cup and a CECAFA Club Championship in 1987.
6. Tom Lwanga
One of the best defenders the pearl of Africa has ever produced. The Slender defender was at the heart of defense alongside Jimmy Kirunda in the 1978 AFCON tournament where the Cranes lost 2-0 to hosts Ghana in the final.
He was also a mainstay in the KCC team that made the quarter-finals of the CAF Champions league in 1978 and 1982.
At the end of his 15-year football stay at both KCC and the national team, Lwanga had won 3 league titles and 2 Uganda cups for KCC and had also helped the Uganda Cranes to 2 CECAFA Senior Challenge Cups.
5. Paul Hasule
Playing as a right-back or a center half sometimes at SC Villa, Hasule was Christened HPV8 for his ability to cruise throughout the pitch which quickly earned him a national team callup.
Earning the SC Villa’s captaincy after John Jjumba, Hasule inspired the Nsambya based side to 8 league titles, 4 Uganda Cups, a CECAFA Club Championship in 1987, and two CECAFA Senior Challenge Cups for the Cranes.
4. Jackson Mayanja
No doubt, Mía Mía as nicknamed by the El-Masry fans, Mayanja is one of the most prolific midfielders the country has ever produced.
The good game reading, flair in passing the ball, and the ease at which he could score goals made Mayanja the most talented and gifted player of his era.
He won 2 league titles (1991 and 1997) and 2 Uganda Cup titles (1987 and 1990) with KCC while he also helped the Cranes to 3 CECAFA titles.
3. Majid Musisi
The first Ugandan footballer to have signed for a European club, Musisi was an icon from his parent club Mulago to SC Villa through to Stade Rennes, Bursaspor, Dardenelspor, and back to Uganda at Ggaba United.
Domestically he won 6 league titles, 3 Uganda cups and 1 CECAFA Club Championship for SC Villa while on the national team, he got his hands on 2 CECAFA titles
After winning everything to be won in Uganda, Majid moved on to Europe and played over 207 games for 3 European clubs and found the back of the net 72 occasions in league games only. The fact that he managed to stay in Europe playing for a period of 7 years and playing in over 200 games speaks volumes about the player’s character.
He is also remembered for his iconic crocodile celebration at Bursaspor that lives on up to now.
2. Jimmy Kirunda
One of the best scoring defenders in the world. With the defensive abilities likened to those of German legend Franz Beckenbauer, Kirunda could run deep from defense to score and create chances for his teammates both at the club and the national team.
At the national team, Kirunda captained Uganda in 3 of the 5 AFCON Championships he participated in with the most notable one being the 1978 tournament where Uganda finished runners ups to host Ghana.
At club level, Kirunda turned out for all the three ‘traditional’ clubs in Uganda; SC Villa, Express and KCCA , winning three league titles (1976, 1977 and 1981) and two Uganda Cup trophies (1980 & 1984) for KCC, a league title (1982) and Uganda Cup (1983) for SC Villa and he was also top-scorer of the top-flight league in 1978 with 32 goals.
1. Phillip Omondi
The best Ugandan player ever. Omo as nicknamed could do anything with the ball and was an idol to many including Ghana legend Abed Pele.
Omondi played for only 5 teams locally and one foreign club in his career: Naguru youth FC, Fiat FC, KCC FC, Bank of Uganda, and Sharjah FC in the United Arab Emirates. But, it was at KCC where he spent most of his playing career. Back from a career-threatening injury in 1977, He scored one of KCC FC’s three goals against NIC that left almost everyone surprised.
A year later, Omondi helped KCC FC win the CECAFA club championship in January in Kampala making history as the first Ugandan side to lift the regional tournament. Two years later in 1979, Omondi left KCC FC and joined paying ranks in the United Arab Emirates where he featured for Sharjah FC. However, with two years into his career as a professional, he suffered another injury in 1981 and made a decision to return home. He returned to KCC FC in 1983 after recovering.
On his return, he scored and assisted important goals as KCC FC lifted the league title in 1983 and 1985 and later the Kakungulu Cup in 1984 and 1987.
At the National team, Omondi played in the 1978 AFCON Championships where he was Uganda’s top scorer with 4 goals.
In 1983, he scored all goals as Uganda beat neighbors Kenya 3-1 to lift the Independence Cup. In 1987, Omondi scored a brace against Somalia in an AFCON qualifier to advance to another stage where they met Cameroon.
In the games against the West African giants, the forward struck once in each tie (home and away) but his goals could not help the Cranes qualify for the showpiece. This frustrated Omondi and immediately announced retirement from football to pursue a coaching course in Germany
Part of the information used in this article was contributed to by Hassan Badru Zziwa – The Observer Media Ltd, Andrew Mwanguhya – The Daily Monitor Publications, Tendo Nicktar Musoke, Paul Mukatabala – FUFA, Aldrine Nsubuga, and Kawowo Sports.