Steve Ogalle may not have captured global attention as modern football agents like Italian-born Dutch Mino Raiola who is known for his prowess on the negotiation table, having represented star football players such Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marco Verratti, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Matthijs de Ligt and Mario Balotelli.
But when the eulogy of Kenya’s legendary footballer Joe Kadenge is read on Saturday, the octogenarian will look back with pride, having played a key role in nurturing the the awe-inspiring former Kenyan international who passed on almost two weeks ago.
Now aged 83 years, Ogalle takes pride in having played a key role in shaping the football career of Kadenge in the early years. Believing that Kadenge, who was playing for Maragoli FC at the time, stood a better chance of excelling in football at the more popular Abaluhya Football Club (now AFC Leopards), Ogalle convinced the player to change clubs in 1964, a move that clearly paid off.
In an interview with Nation Sport at his Bukiri home in Funyula Constituency in Busia County, the former AFC Leopards secretary-general is full of praise for the late Kadenge.
“Kadenge was a disciplined player both on and off the field. His prowess on the ball left many defenders and goalkeepers for dead. Kadenge did not support witchcraft (juju) in football as glorified by some regions in Africa,” he said.
But Ogalle is heartbroken by current problems bedevilling his former club AFC Leopards. He insists that the success of AFC Leopards of yesteryears was anchored on quality players, more so strikers.
He says a team without formidable striking force puts too much pressure on the defence.
“The secret that made the club invincible during my tenure as a leader was the ability to scout for great players such as Josephat Murilla, JJ Masiga, Kadenge, David Asibwa and Peter Kirumira from Kampala City Council,” he disclosed.
Ogalle has kept a newspaper cuttings of the club’s journey since 1964 when he joined the team as one of the founder members.
He served as the club’s secretary-general when Kenneth Matiba was the chairman of Kenya Football Federation.
Ogalle proudly displayed the trophy donated to the club by Norwich City in 1975 when the Kenyan club beat the English Premier League Club in Nairobi.
That crop of AFC Leopards players beat Bayer 04 from Germany in another friendly match.
Ogalle says the death of Kadenge should unite all Kenyans, especially leaders from western Kenya.
He said Kadenge brought fame to AFC Leopards, helping the club to dominate the local and regional football scene. He is of the opinion that current office bearers at AFC Leopards should honour Kadenge by reviving the club.
“Club patrons should call for a meeting of the club’s stakeholders and players with the view of getting a way forward to redeem the club's image.”
He urged AFC Leopards leadership to look into players' welfare and to also consider a management that can steer the team to greater heights. Ogalle, who once served as treasurer of the larger Busia District, is now a farmer. He is one of the football stakeholders expected at Kadenge’s funeral.