Political leaders, former Kenyan international footballers and friends were among mourners who attended a requiem mass at Friends International Church, Nairobi on Wednesday to honour the late Joe Kadenge.
Speaker after speaker eulogized the fallen legend as a talented player and a great inspiration to other players that came after him.
The service was attended by over 30 ex-internationals among them John Nyawanga who recalled golden moments with Kadenge.
Nyawanga who was the captain when Kenya in their maiden Africa Cup of Nations appearance in 1972, said it’s difficult to name Kenya's best right wingers without mentioning Joe Kadenge.
“He was one of the most stylish players. When we ran out of ideas, Kadenge was the only option to pass the ball to because of his unbelievable imagination. He was extremely talented, revered and even idolized by fans even from the opposition team who followed him every time off and off the pitch,” Nyawanga said.
Former Prime Minister, Raila Odinga who watched Kadenge in his heydays described the late as a personal friend, gentleman and a peaceful man who was respected by all.
Raila said Kadenge was arguably the finest dribbler who could leave defenders and goalkeepers in his wake and score with ease.
“Kadenge and Ambrose Nyapanda my neighbour in Bondo made opponents look foolish as the crowds cheered their fantasy game. Kadenge could score goals from the tightest of angles one would think of. Most of his goals were decisive,” said Odinga.
Raila said President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked the County government of Nairobi to renovate and rename Nairobi’s City Stadium to ‘Joe Kadenge Stadium’.
Amani National Congress Party leader, Musalia Mudavadi urged the government to purchase a house for the deceased's family who died on July 7 after a long battle with illness.
Mudavadi said sportsmen will continue to suffer until proper structures are put in place to cater for their welfare.
“Unless we amend the laws, we are not going to do justice to our players. To be sustainable, we must get the government support," he said.
Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula described Kadenge as a superb dribbler and a clinical finisher. He said all legends who brought glory to the country deserves a free house.
“The Madagascan team on arrival back from Egypt where they participated in the ongoing Afcon, were each given a house. Our legends too deserve the same, after winning trophies for the country,” he said.
His widows, Marble and Maria Kadenge, too bid farewell to their husband who lived a humble life over years and interacted with both the high and mighty as well as the common mwananchi.
The deceased will be laid to rest on Saturday at his Gesambai home, Tiriki in Vihiga County.
The body will be flown to Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega on Thursday morning for public viewing.
Meanwhile, over Sh5 million was raised on Tuesday to cater for Kadenge’s funeral.
During the fund-raiser held at Charter Hall, President Kenyatta sent Sh1 million through Odinga who also gave his personal donation of an equal amount.
ANC party leader, Musalia Mudavadi gave Sh200,000 besides hiring a chopper to transport the body to Kakamega.
Nairobi County Governor Mike Sonko gave Sh1 million while Sh500,000 came from COTU Secretary General, Francis Atwoli, who has also hired a chopper to carry fans to the funeral led by Kenya Football Fans Federation (KEFOFA) chairman Francis Liboyi.
Others who contributed are AFC Leopards legends, Moses Wetangula, Godfrey Osotsi, Kipchumba Murkomen, Johnston Sakaja, Khaniri, Sam Nyamweya, Tim Wanyonyi, George Aladwa, David Agoi, Wycliffe Oparanya among others.