Jimmy Kirunda (left) prior to a Uganda Cranes match

Kaiser is a German word to mean emperor. Back in 1848, in the wake of the revolutions in the German Empire (1848–49), King Frederick William IV of Prussia was offered the title “Emperor of the Germans” (German: Kaiser der Deutschen) by the Frankfurt Parliament.

The German Emperor was the official title of the head of state and hereditary ruler of the German Empire. A specifically chosen term, it was introduced with the 1 January 1871 constitution and lasted until the official abdication of Wilhelm II on 28 November 1918.

In the football fraternity in Germany, Franz Beckenbauer was also referred to as the Kaiser. He was nicknamed Der Kaiser (“The Emperor”) because of his elegant style, dominance and leadership on the field.

Beckenbauer inspired several people across the world including Uganda’s Jimmy Kirunda who passed on today after collapsing in Bwaise, Kampala.

Kirunda was christened with the title Kaiser because of his abilities as a defender (sweeper) yet he was equally lethal going forward.

Born to the late Henry Kirunda and Constance Nawalu in 1950, Kirunda grew up in Mulago, a Kampala City suburb that was a hotbed of young footballers at the time. Tom Lwanga, Majid Musisi, Sam Mugambe, Godfrey Kateregga and Adam Ssemugabi among others all cut their teeth from what is today called the Old Mulago medical complex.

The rough playing surface was always busy with youngsters from neighbouring towns like Kyebando, Kamwokya, Bukoto. Because Brazil was very dominant at the time, the Mulago pitch was nicknamed Maracana.

He showed potential at a young age and was a key play for schools like Naggalama Islamic and Old Kampala SS.  At the time, he was playing for second division side Lint FC but when the national league was introduced in 1968, Kirunda played for Express FC thus playing for two teams at the same time.

A year later, Jaberi Badandi Ssali the head coach of KCC was impressed with the abilities of the youngster and he made sure he lured him to Lugogo. As an inducement, Kirunda was employed as a sports clerk in Kampala City Council.

Kirunda came along with George Mukasa who also crossed from Express FC. Club trainees like Moses Nsereko, Ibrahim Magala and Emma Mugerwa were promoted to the first team and the arrival of more youngsters like Phillip Omondi, Tom Lwanga, Sam Musenze, Richard Kembo, William Kityo, William Mindrea and Samson Kaya proved to be KCC’s turning point as it became more competitive.

He formed a great partnership with Lwanga and up to date, this is regarded as arguably the best centre back pairing in the history of Ugandan football.

When KCC started a trophy haul in 1976, winning the first league title, Kirunda was a key pillar. He went on to help the team successfully defend the league in the following season before they won the CECAFA Club Championship two years later.

Despite KCC missing out of the league in 1978, Kirunda emerged as the top scorer with 32 goals in 28 games, a record that stood for 21 years before it was broken by Andrew ‘Fimbo’ Mukasa in 1999.

In the same year, he captained the Uganda Cranes to the Africa Cup of Nations final in Ghana, the best performance up to date.

In 1982, he ditched KCC to join town rivals SC Villa and guided them to their first league title, winning the championship unbeaten.

Kirunda fact file

Kirunda won the CECAFA Cup with Uganda in 1969, 1970, 1973, 1976 and 1977.

As Uganda Cranes team manager, he won three CECAFA Cup titles (1989, 1990 & 1992).

He turned out for all the three ‘traditional’ clubs in Uganda; SC Villa, Express and KCCA.

At KCC, he won three league titles (1976, 1977 and 1981) and two Uganda Cup trophies (1980 & 1984).

His journey at SC Villa also saw him claim a league title (1982) and Uganda Cup (1983).

His brothers William Kityo and Dick Bintanula played for KCC and Mulago respectively.

Kirunda was top-scorer of the top-flight league in 1978 with 32 goals before he later coached clubs; Bell, Buikwe & Cooperative.

He returned to football in 1997 and played for Ngeye clan in the Bika Bya Baganda Football tournament.

Sourced from Hassan Badru Zziwa of The Observer

Joel Muyita

Joel Muyita is a senior staff writer at Kawowo Sports.

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