He had three stints at Express FC and two at SC Villa but not without controversy in transfers.
Born to Mr. Emojong Sebastian and Miss Teopista Nyaburu, Obwiny went to Shimon Primary School for his primary education before joining Old Kampala S.S and Kibuli S.S for O and A level respectively.
While in primary school, Obwiny was torn between athletics and football but when he joined secondary, he opted for soccer instead of athletics.
Glittering club career.
Phillip featured for only five clubs in his 20 year career that saw him win every domestic and regional trophy. He began his club career at Owino hot stars FC in 1991 before joining the Red eagles a year later.
First stint at Express FC.
In 1992 while playing for Kibuli S.S in schools competitions, Express FC scout Steven Mulinde poached him. The young lad signed for the Red eagles and made his league debut in a one all draw with UCB FC at Wankulukuku stadium. In his first season at the club, Obwiny helped the side lift the Kakungulu cup after beating Jinja based Nile FC 1-0 in the finals. He was also instrumental as Express FC won its first league title in 18 years in 1993.
In 1994, Obwiny helped the Wankulukuku side win the Kakungulu cup after defeating KCC FC 4-3 on penalties after a goal less draw in the finals. The side also reached the finals of Cecafa club championship but lost to Sudanese El –Merrickh 2-1. He was also instrumental the following year as Express FC won a league and cup double. However, the side lost to Simba SC on penalties 5-3 after drawing 1-1 in the normal time in the finals of Cecafa club championships in a tournament held in Tanzania but made a land mark in African club championships reaching the semi finals of the competition before losing 2-3 to Mark Fish inspired Orlando Pirates FC of South Africa. During that historic season, Obwiny netted 11 times for the club.
Portsmouth dream shattered.
His form and talent that season attracted the attention of foreign clubs including English side Portsmouth FC. His professional dream however never came to reality as Express FC officials restricted him to go for trials at Fratton Park citing the continental engagements the side still had to engage in. Despite the set back, Obwiny and team mate Fred Tamale later flew to England but it was too late as the club had ended the programs for trials and the duo lost that opportunity. On his return, he made a brave decision to quit Express FC for SC Villa but didn’t come on a silver plate.
First stint at SC Villa.
It took the intervention of FUFA to resolve the transfer in one of the longest transfer sagas in Uganda’s football history. SC Villa had to part with a combined fee of Shillings13m for the services of the versatile lad. It is said Express FC got Shs 6m while Obwiny pocketed Shs 7m as sign on fee. On joining the blue half, Obwiny became an instant hit and formed a deadly centre back pairing with Andy Lule. On a sad note though, he didn’t lift any title with Villa in the period he spent at the club as Express FC retained the league title in 1996 with UEB lifting the Kakungulu Cup while Express FC lifted the Kakungulu cup the following year with KCC FC taking the league. He decided to cross the bridge back to Wankulukuku.
Red eagles return.
In 1998, Obwiny made a return to Express FC in a prodigal son making with the Red eagles paying Shs 5m to Villa. Still he won nothing at the club that season with The Jogoos he had left coincidently winning a league and cup double. He spent three years at the club without winning anything again and rejoined Villa in another transfer saga.
Fruitful return at Villa Park.
At the end of the 2000 season, Express FC announced that Obwiny had left for trials in Turkey. The red eagles’ management and fans were however shocked when Villa treasurer Omar Ahmed Mandela appeared at Nakulabye leading Obwiny to FUFA offices to complete his signing. Up to now, some fans believe the versatile soccer star never flew to Turkey but spent that time at Mandela’s home. Unlike the first stint at the club that saw him win nothing, the right back helped SC Villa to a league and cup double in 2002 and also led the Blues to the league and Cecafa title in 2003. He however left Villa Park and joined URA FC the following year. In 2004, Obwiny scored five goals as SC Villa beat 9-man Akol FC 22-1 in a league match that was later nullified.
Captaining URA FC to maiden trophy.
In 2005, Obwiny led the tax collectors to their maiden Kakungulu Cup title beating KCC FC 2-1 in the finals. He helped the side win the league title in 2006 and then in 2007. Newly promoted Nalubaale FC had to fork out Shs 10m for his services and helped the side survive relegation in 2008 before rejoining Express FC in 2009 before retiring a year later.
In 1992, Obwiny was handed the arm band for the national U-20 side. He made his Uganda Cranes debut in 1994 when the Cranes thumped Ethiopia 4-1. The lad also took up the number two Jersey won by the legendary Paul Hasule. In 1996, Obwiny was instrumental as The Cranes lifted the Cecafa Senior Challenge title in Sudan. He even went on to win the golden boot after scoring three goals. In 1998, Obwiny scored once and won a penalty as Uganda beat neighbors Rwanda 5-0 in an AFCON qualifier at Nakivubo. In 2000, the full back scored twice in the Cecafa senior challenge cup as Uganda won the title in a tournament held in Kampala. It was an all Ugandan final as Uganda Cranes A beat Uganda B (The Lions) 2-0 in the finals.
In 2002, Obwiny scored the only goal as Cranes beat Ghana 1-0 in an AFCON qualifier. In 2003, the versatile defender cum midfielder hit the back of the net as Uganda beat Mauritius 3-0 in a preliminary AFCON qualifier. The Cranes lost the return leg 3-1 away from home but David Obua’s extra time goal ensured Uganda reached the next round on away goals rule. The Villa and Express FC legend un ceremoniously retired from the national team after Egyptian Coach Mohammad Abbas chased him from camp as Uganda was preparing for a duel with DR. Congo for alleged breach of code of conduct. It’s said that Obwiny was found watching Television beyond midnight yet it was against the rules set for the entire camp. He never featured for the national team again.
Obwiny’s controversy and temperament.
He was known for being temperamental and on a number of occasions, got marching orders for that. In 1998, his temperament hit the roof top when he roughed up a Nile FC player in a league match, he was sent off for the offence. In the following season, Obwiny punched then Mbale Heroes forward Eugene Ssepuya after a heated argument on the pitch.
In 2001, Obwiny was lucky not to be sent off after getting involved in a heated battle with SC Villa’s Sierra Leone import James Kayimba that saw the two exchange punches. The referee instead sent off Kayimba and only booked Obwiny. The two were sworn enemies and fought whenever their teams met with reports indicating that the rivalry began in mid 90s while Kayimba was at Kenya’s AFC Leopard as his side met Express FC in Cecafa. It’s also believed that one of the reasons Obwiny left Villa in 1998 was because the club had signed Kayimba.
In a Uganda Cup quarter final clash between SC Villa and Express FC in 2000, Obwiny influenced his Express FC team mates to abandon the game after skipper George Ssemwogerere was red carded for a foul on Hassan Mubiru that led to an opener in the game. Express FC fans started throwing stones something that forced anti riot police to fire tear gas to calm the situation, after calmness was restored, Obwiny told match officials that his team mates had been affected by tear gas and could not play again. The game stopped and was rescheduled but Villa still won the replay 3-1 at Namboole before going on to lift the title when they beat Military Police FC 1-0 in the finals.
In 2003, Obwiny almost punched Simba SC Coach James Sianga after the Tanzanian went head to head with Villa’s Mitcho Sredejovich after the Jogoos beat the Tanzanian side 1-0 in the finals to lift their second Cecafa title.
Despite the temperament, Obwiny will always be remembered as one of the best talents and free kick experts ever produced in Uganda and a legend at both rivals Express FC and SC Villa. In addition to that, the versatile star is one player who consistently played at high level and commitment for the entire 20 year career. He won a total of 15 trophies that include 6 league titles, 5 Kakungulu Cup crowns, 1 Cecafa club title and 2 Cecafa Senior challenge title. He is currently into private business and an ambassador of the Airtel Rising Star, a soccer tournament aimed at discovering young talent.
What do you remember most about Obwiny?
Hassan Badru Zziwa – The Observer Media Ltd, Soccer 256.com, Philip Obwiny, SC Villa.com and Ntege aka Nyindo (Express FC fan since 1990)