Kenya: Leaders Pay Glowing Tributes to Football Legend Joe Kadenge

Photo: Capital FM
Kenyan football legend Joe Kadenge.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has described the late Joe Kadenge as a sports legend and a sublime footballer who applied his talent fully in service to his country.

Kadenge, who had been unwell for a while due to a recurring stroke, died at Meridian Hospital in Nairobi on Sunday. He was 84.

In a statement, President Kenyatta further said he was an icon of Kenyan football.

"Joe Kadenge represented the best of our football. He was the icon of the sport in our country. It is sad that the hand of death has robbed us of a man who gave his all for the glory of our country," he said.


Kadenge was arguably the best striker Kenya had ever produced.

The famous term 'Kadenge na mpira' was coined by football commentators to honour his great exploits on the field in his heyday.

Two years ago, the President and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta visited the ailing Kadenge at his Mariakani estate home in Nairobi to wish him well.

"Joe was my friend. He had great words of wisdom for me when First Lady Margaret and I visited him," Mr Kenyatta said.

"He had great love for his country and held big dreams for Kenyan football. We will surely miss him."


Kadenge was a highly gifted footballer who played for the national football team, Harambee Stars, for a record 14 years starting in the 1960's.

After hanging his playing boots, he went into football management, distinguishing himself and rising to become the Harambee Stars' coach in 2002.

President Kenyatta prayed for God to grant the family, friends, relatives and the entire football fraternity the serenity and fortitude to bear with the loss.

"His death is a loss to the sporting fraternity and our nation. Joe exemplified talent, dedication and patriotism. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this time," he said.


Deputy President William Ruto said Kadenge was "unplayable" and that "he terrorised defenders with dribbles, nutmegs and was a joy to watch".

He added on Twitter, "He raised a family of great footballers: Francis, Evans, Rogers and Oscar, who excelled in the sport. Kadenge was a wonderful man, on and off the pitch; approachable, gentlemanly, courteous and a role model. May his soul rest in peace."

In his condolence message on the social media platform, politician Raila Odinga, leader of the Orange Democratic Movement, said via Twitter that Kenya has lost "one of the greatest talents to ever grace a football pitch in our national uniform".

Mr Odinga said Kadenge was a true ambassador for the country and Kenyan soccer.

"May his spirit inspire more young people to pursue the game. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the soccer fraternity for whom he was a figure to emulate."

Musalia Mudavadi, leader of the Amani National Congress, mourned Kadenge while attending a service at Kitengela SDA Church.

"[Kadenge] was perhaps the most legendary of Kenyan footballers and shall be remembered for his exploits on the pitch," he said.


Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, the Football Kenya Federation and radio presenter Carol Radull also condoled with the family.

Governor Sonko said "Kadenge was one of the greatest-ever footballers".

Via Facebook, Vihiga Senator George Khaniri said, "Kadenge's exemplary contribution to the football fraternity shall be surely missed and remembered in equal measure".

Vihiga Governor Wilber Ottichilo said on Facebook that the last time Kadenge visited him in his office, he told him that Vihiga is a source of talent and true legends.

He eulogised Kadenge as aa pillar of society and a true son of Vihiga.

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