In Summary
  • Fans Debate. Cranes and KCCA great Jackson Mayanja believes legend Phillip Omondi is incomparable.
  • Omondi, Onyango, Musisi, Sekagya and Mayanja himself dominated viewers choices for best ever footballers.

The age old debate of the master of a given art or game will never stop, and with it will always be deep and emotional arguments.
Football lovers found themselves faced with one of those situations when NTV Press Box, the country’s Monday Night flagship sports show, put it to themto name their top three all-time greatest Ugandan footballers.
It was bound to generate mixed sentiments as most of today’s generation did not watch the 70s, 80s and 90s peers, where many talented players forced fans to fill stadiums to the rafters.
Jackson Mayanja Mia Mia, who terrorized defences locally and internationally with KCCA and Uganda Cranes in the 90s, was the part of the subject himself.
While Mayanja does not believe in the debate of one person being the greatest footballer “because generations differ,” he made it clear that there is this man who played football like no other.
Only Omondi
“My greatest player of all time is Phillip Omondi,” said Mayanja, who is also now a trained coach and soccer academy owner, “But I also have others like Paul Ssali (goalkeeper), Magid Musisi, Denis Onyango, and Jackson Mayanja among others.”
Mind you, that was hardly Mayanja’s list in order, after Omondi. You might be interested in who his best after Omondi is if you trace back to a Daily Monitor interview of him published on April 21, 2012.
“Omondi is up there. He is big. Bigger than everyone,” he told this newspaper, then, adding, “But of course, after Omondi, who do you go to next? You come to me. Ask people who watched us.”
Certainly Mark Ssali, the Press Box panelist, agreed with Mayanja as one of the greatest by naming him in his most talented and X1. The one constant was that all panelists had Omondi top on their list.

Social media weigh in
Across on social media, Omondi faced stiff competition from current Cranes skipper and Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango, SC Villa great Magid Musisi and former Uganda captain Ibrahim Sekagya. Mayanja and Obua also good some good love from the fans.
Most of the fans from today’s generation admitted to having heard great things about Omondi but never watched him, the reason they went for those they watched.
“This is not an easy choice for me to make today,” said Farouk Miya, who also got some mentions from fans on social as one of the greats for having scored the only goal that confirmed Uganda’s qualification to the 2017 Afcon and another while at the finals.
“…because I didn’t get a chance to watch the past generation players. But from my generation I think it is Ibrahim Sekagya, Denis Onyango and David Obua.”
Onyango too went for Sekagya “because I played with him and he played for top clubs in Europe and captained them and was a fantastic leader,” he said.
“Obua because he was such a great player who made his mark at the national team and club level and in Europe which was not easy for a player coming from Uganda.” The player also reserved a few kudos for himself. “And of course how can I forget me, the only Ugandan to win Caf Footballer of the Year based in Africa, and winning Goalkeeper of the Year three times in a row, not forgetting winning the Caf award as a goalkeeper makes it fantastic.” Message was signed off with a squad of smiling emojis.
Phillip Omondi, arguably the most gifted and impactful footballer Uganda has ever produced, is remembered for turning defeats into draws and draws into wins.
More importantly, the forward is remembered for spurring the Cranes to the 1978 Nations Cup final, scoring a goal of individual brilliance in the semifinal against Nigeria. The Cranes lost the final 2-0 to hosts Ghana.
Magid Musisi is arguably one of the deadliest strikers the country ever produced, and was instrumental in SC Villa reaching the finals of the 1991 African Cup of Champions (Champions League) before joining Stade Rennes of France in a record transfer fee of $1m the following year. He scored 29 first round goals in the league before Rennes came calling.
Onyango, the Sundowns shot-stopper, broke the norm by becoming the first goalkeeper to win Africa’s Player of the Year based on the continent. He was instrumental in qualifying Uganda for the 2017 Afcon finals and is yet to concede a goal in the 2019 qualifiers.

NTV PRESS BOX TAKE

Andrew Kabuura:
Phillip Omondi, Magid Musisi,
Jackson Mayanja
Usher Komugisha:
Phillip Omondi, Ibrahim Sekagya,
Denis Onyango
Mark Ssali:
Phillip Omondi, Magid Musisi,
Jimmy Kirunda
Andrew Mwanguhya:
Phillip Omondi, Magid Musisi,
Denis Onyango
Robert Madoi:
Phillip Omondi, Jimmy Kirunda,
Ibrahim Sekagya
Joel Khamadi:
Phillip Omondi, Magid Musisi,
Dennis Onyango

A FEW SELECTED FORMER & CURRENT CRANES PLAYERS CHIP IN

Farouk Miya,
Cranes attacking midfielder
“This is not an easy choice for me to make. Because I didn’t get a chance to watch the past generation players. But from my generation I think it is Ibrahim Sekagya, Denis Onyango and David Obua.”

Jackson Mayanja.
Former Cranes forward/midfielder
“My greatest player of all time is Phillip Omondi. But I also have others like Paul Ssali (goalkeeper), Magid Musisi, Denis Onyango and Jackson Mayanja among others.”

Denis Onyango,
Cranes captain/goalkeeper
“Ibrahim Sekagya, because I played with him and he played for top clubs in Europe and captained them and was a fantastic leader. And then there is David Obua. David was such a great player who made his mark at the national team and club level. And of course me, the only Ugandan to win Caf Footballer of the Year based in Africa, and winning Goalkeeper of the Year three times in a row. Those three make the cut for me as I don’t want to talk about those I never played with.”