Uganda: Cranes Captain Onyango Retires From International Football

(file photo).

Uganda Cranes captain Denis Onyango has retired from international football after over 16 years of service.

The 35-year-old confirmed the news in a statement, through his agent Ivica Stankovic, from his South African base, where he plays with Mamelodi Sundowns, on Monday.

"I sit here with tears rolling down my eyes because after a lengthy consideration I have come to the decision of retiring from international football with immediate effect," he said.

"It is a sad day in my life knowing that I will never wear the jersey of my beloved Cranes in front of passionate fans again. I will now become the number one supporter who wears the jersey watching from the stands or from home."

Onyango added: "It is through the Ugandan national team that I have grown from a boy into the man and father that I am now."

The 2016 African Footballer of the Year, Champions League winner, and three-time Caf XI goalkeeper helped Uganda end a nearly four-decade absence from Afcon with a Gabon 2017 appearance.

He then captained the Cranes at the next edition in Egypt.

Onyango announced his retirement on the back of a failed 2021 Afcon qualification campaign.

"For all the success that I have enjoyed in my career I owe so much of it to the national team.

"It was because of my national team that I got to play against all the best players from across the continent who play in top leagues all over the world.

"I played at the AFCON finals because of the Cranes. The joy of being at the AFCON finals after so many years was sweet.

"To sing my national anthem was the greatest joy that I will ever have being the 'proud boy' from Uganda that I am.

"I didn't want to retire but I felt it is better to leave good memories and allow for the younger goalkeepers to compete for that jersey which I have worn with pride for 16 years.

"Everyone who has worked with me knows how much I enjoyed playing for the national team."

The shot stopper added: "My commitment and hard work were never in question."

"To everyone that I worked with especially coach Micho (Milutin Sredojevic) thank you for the patience, understanding and wisdom that you brought to me.

"To my friends, management of the Federation of Uganda Football Associations, Nsambya FC and SC Villa, teammates, managers, coaches, I say thank you."

Onyango also had special thanks to the fans. "My biggest appreciation is to the fans and all the people of Uganda.

"I love you all. Football can never be as beautiful as it is without fans. Nothing can ever be better than captaining your national team. It was real. Salute."

Onyango has won over 80 caps for the Uganda Cranes, and retires as the most decorated footballer in the country.

This article first appeared on the Daily Monitor of Uganda.

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