Keneth Muguna Mugambi capped a brilliant year by being crowned the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL).
However, as the sweet feeling sinks into his 20-year-old head, he may just want to find out what became of past winners in the last six editions. It has never been a cakewalk.
Pundits have blamed it all on fame and pressure that comes with such a major recognition, while others say it’s a curse that seem to follow winners like a tail.
In 2010, Gor Mahia’s sensation George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo was voted the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the KPL.
Unknown to many— including Blackberry himself — his career would soon take a dangerous dive down the slopes of under performance. Odhiambo had an incredible season with Gor Mahia — and was rightly named the Player of the Year.
He followed his success by ditching KPL and joining Danish side Randers. Sadly, after just one season, the Danish side terminated Odhiambo’s contract as he failed to find playing time.
He would then move to Tanzania where he joined Azam where he had an unsuccessful stint.
Like a prodigal son, he came back home, where he joined City Stars. He ended his journey by re-joining Gor Mahia— where he is picking himself up.
In 2008, the first ever winner of the award, Francis Ouma, was crowned after helping Mathare United win the KPL title.
Unfortunately, he failed to sparkle the following season after moving away from the local league. Ouma would end his career at City Stars after failing to find his shine with Sofapaka.
Kevin Kimani won the award in 2011 despite his then club Mathare United failing to clinch the title. He followed in the footsteps of the previous winners by going abroad, where he never really got signed to a specific team.
Two years later, he was back in KPL where he played for Tusker for one season. His whereabouts remain unknown.
Enter Jacob Keli (2013) and Anthony Ndolo (2014). Keli finished as top scorer at KCB FC in 2013 and was crowned KPL Player of the Year and Golden Boot winner.
He would then join AFC Leopards, and later moved to Zambia’s Nkana Red Devils, but failed to replicate his home form. He had to come back home to KPL, where he joined Gor Mahia, but was laid off due to lack of playing time.
Ndolo on the other hand plies his trade at Tusker FC— the 2016 KPL winners. He however remains a pale shadow of his former self.
The question is, will Muguna overcome this curse? Only time will tell. The only person who seems to have beaten the curse is last year’s winner Michael Olunga.
Olunga was nominated for the Swedish Premier League New Player of the Year award.
The former Gor Mahia ace who plies his trade at IF Djurgardens scored 12 goals for the Allsvenskan side this season.
According to Posta Rangers coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno, success outside the local league needs a lot of mental strength. Players who fail to make it have been lacking in this.
“It is normally harder on the other side because the culture is different. Without a strong character, you cannot succeed.
Problem is, some of the players who go out don’t put in the required hard work to succeed at this level,” he said.