Uganda Cranes Captain Dennis Onyango has retired from international football, becoming the second player to do so in less than one week. The Sundowns player had hinted on his future last Friday in his tribute to the retiring Hassan Wasswa.
“Congratulations on a great 13yr Cranes career & know am soon following suit.” the 2017 Africa Based Player of the Year tweeted. Three days later, the South Africa based player has come through on his word in an emotional tweet that contained his letter to FUFA.
It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my retirement from international football.
After much consideration, my family, managers and I, decided it was in my best interest to hang my gloves on my beloved Cranes .Cranes captain Dennis Onyango on Twitter
The letter to FUFA comes just hours after an audio of Onyango threatening to shun the upcoming world cup qualifiers over reckless remarks by FUFA president Moses Magogo had made rounds on numerous social media platforms.
Born on 15th May 1985 in Uganda’s capital Kampala, the 6ft 2 shot-stopper started his career at Nsambya FC . During his stint at Nsambya in 2003, the team hosted Uganda’s record league champions SC Villa for a friendly match and Villa’s coach Milutin Sredojevic Micho was impressed by the teenager’s raw talent.
Much as Villa had a plethora of options in goal with Ugandan legends Posnet Omwony and Hannington Kyalesubula not forgetting Mathew Owino from Kenya, Micho took a gamble on his rough diamond and ordered for his signing.
Onyango too wasn’t moved and put the work in, winning the league in 2004. That same year, Onyango was on the receiving end of fans after he misjudged a back pass and the balled rolled beneath his foot into goal during an U-23 Olympics qualifier at Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium. This moment was one of the biggest tests on the Busia man’s mentality as he did not let it get the better of him.
In 2005, he set off for Addis Ababa to join Micho at Ethiopian giants St George SA. His displays earned him a call-up to the national team and coach Muhammad Abbas handed him debut on 18th June 2005 during a world cup qualifier against Cape Verde.
His stint in Ethiopia was short-lived as South Africa giants Supersport United came knocking in 2006. He spent four years in Pretoria amassing 70 apps for the Matsatsantsa before joining Mpumalanga Black Aces for one year.
Joining the Big Boys
In 2011 South Africa’s moneybags Sundowns called and Denis responded. He joined at a time when Wayne Sandilands and Kennedy Mweene were monsters in between the sticks but patience has always been a strong character of the Jogoo.
Onyango moved to Johannesburg for a loan stint with Bidvest Wits in the 2014/2014 season. While in the City of Gold, Onyango impressed the coaches and was recalled to play second fiddle to Mweene in the 2014/2015 season. The next year, he secured the number one slot for himself and has since been a force to reckon with for the Brazilians.
On the national team he has literally been the first name on the team-sheet for more than a decade. His heroics inspired the Cranes to the 2017 AFCON finals after failing to qualify for Africa’s premium tournament for close to four decades. He conceded only two goals in the six group games during the qualifiers. Prior to the tournament, he was announced 2016’s CAF Africa Based African Player of the year.
Following Geoffrey Massa’s retirement from the Cranes fold in April 2017, Onyango took over the reigns as captain and led the team to another AFCON showdown in Egypt, 2019. The Cranes missed out of qualification’s for this year’s tournament after failing to progress from a group consisting of Burkina Faso, Malawi and neighbours South Sudan.
To Onyango, his retirement comes at a good time as it gives the technical team ample time to prepare for his replacement. Uganda is blessed with lots of talented goalkeepers but Onyango’s presence was a unique one. Charles Lukwago, Salim Jamal, Robert Odongkara and Ismael Watenga are among the few that will be putting in a claim for Uganda’s number one slot in the next Crane’s camp.
From Mambo news, we wish him the best in his future endeavours.