Nicholas Kipkirui and the famous Kalenjins who Played soccer

All cameras will be on local boy Nicholas Kipkirui when Gor Mahia take on Zoo Kericho at the Kericho Green Stadium on Wednesday.

The high flying forward has been in red hot form since switching from Zoo to the Green Army early this year. Kip has total of six goals in KPL and CAF Confederations cup matches.

His biggest contribution was when he netted the decisive goal against Egyptian Giants Zamalek in February.

His goal was also important since it turned the tide of the match. Gor were held at a 2-2 draw before he scored in the 51st minute ensuring K’Ogallo bagged all the three points with a 4-2 win. Denis Oliech scored the 4th goal in injury time.

But Kipkirui is not the first Kalenjin to shine on the big stage. There were others before him. Kales are not just athletics and other track events.

The most famous Kalenjin footballer is Sammy Sholei Tiyoi.  Sholei played for Tusker FC and Harambee Stars and who also vied for Football Kenya Federation (FKF) chairmanship against Sam Nyamweya.

The pioneer footballer in the community was one Jimmy Rero who played for Nakuru All Stars in the 1960s as a defender. His son Tom Rero was a regular with KCC Eldoret FC and was voted KFF 1998 Player of the Year.

When Kericho Olympic Youth Centre was established in 1974 they produced a top goalie for Abeingo FC of Nakuru and also reserve for Harambee Stars called David Sawe.

After Sawe came Joe Birgen of Waterworks FC before it was renamed Ulinzi Stars. The slums of Majengo Nairobi produced another talented ball juggler the late David Chirchir who juggled selling second-hand clothes in Gikomba Market and playing for Re-Union FC. You never saw a master of ‘kupepeta’ until you saw Chirchir doing his thing at the City Stadium.

Image result for Sammy Sholei

Deep past Oyugis Market inside Homabay County in a school Karabok Secondary School, Gor Mahia tracked down another Kale called Joseph Kiplangat. He was shipped to Nairobi and given the coveted green jersey. He contributed immensely to the K’Ogalo resurgence under Coach James Sianga between 2012-2014.

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