By Dennis Mabuka
Gor Mahia defender David ‘Calabar’ Owino has been voted Goal Kenya Player of the Year after beating four others to the crown.
Owino, who last week helped Kenya’s Harambee Stars to clinch Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup and end an 11-year drought, came top with 435 votes, edging out Victor Wanyama of Southampton to second spot after managing 189.
AFC Leopards’ striker Allan Wanga, who scored a double for Kenya in Cecafa Cup final against Sudan, finished third after bagging 165 votes; Tusker’s Jesse Were was fourth on 76 while Gor Mahia goalie Jerim Onyango finished last on 72.
Owino exclusively revealed to Goal that he was elated to have beaten a host of talented players to the crown. “First of all, I would like to thank Goal for honoring the hard work of footballers in the country and around the world. Secondly, I just want to thank the fans for the support that they have given me and for their votes for me to be crowned Goal Kenya Player of the Year 2013.
“I want to thank all the guys that were vying for the same award. I think they made me a better player. They pushed me really hard and they made me perform week in and week out. It could have gone either way. It’s been a great journey for me.
“Victor (Wanyama) was also vying for it. He has done well for both club and country. Allan (Wanga) has done well for club and country and for me to walk away with this award, I am very grateful and this is the beginning of many good things to come. I will keep working hard to make sure that I defend it again next year.”
Owino was born in Nakuru town and spent his formative years in Flamingo Estate Nakuru. He started his career playing for Nakuru All Stars, then known as AC Nakuru. Owino had been a solid defender for Karuturi Sports. He was signed by Gor Mahia to help shore up the defence after the departure of fan favourite Eric Masika, who had left to join arch rivals AFC Leopards.
CROWNED | Owino 'Calabar' celebrates after receiving Goal Kenya Player of the Year trophy.
His ability as a full back was on display when Kenya played against Nigeria in a World Cup qualifier in 2013. Owino was assigned the difficult task of marking on loan Liverpool winger Victor Moses. The Nigerian was a handful to deal with but Owino acquitted himself well chasing Moses all day, closing him down and foiling Moses when he had a clear shot on goal and looked certain to score. Owino earned himself the nickname “Calabar” on that day because the match was played in the town of Calabar.
But Owino is equally adept upfront. He has proven that he has a knack for scoring crucial goals. None was more crucial than the goal he scored against AFC Leopards’ during the second leg of the 2013 season. He calmly controlled a high ball from Kevin Omondi and with defenders closing in on him, he slotted the ball to the far corner of the net to score the equalizer in the waning moments of the game.
He has also been nicknamed “Jashirati” in honour of the legendary Tanzanian musician Daniel Owino Misiani whose ancestral home was Shirati in Northwestern Tanzania and was often referred to as Owino Jashirati.
Congratulations are in order from Goal Kenya.