Being the week that Kenya celebrates ‘Mashujaa Day'[Heroes Day], Sporta will feature a sporting personality that has helped fly the famous black, white, red and green high on the world’s grandest stage in celebration of their efforts and contribution.
Born in Mathare, a surbub in Kenya’s Capital city in February 1985, Dennis Oguta Oliech is easily the greatest ever person to have kicked a ball in Kenya. Starting out out humbly playing for Dagoretti Santos in his early years the then 16-year-old moved to Mathare United at youth level.
Even though the then Mathare United Chairman Bob Munro blocked a potential move for Kenya’s teenage prodigy to French Ligue 1 side Marseille, Oliech turned professional in 2003 signing for Qatari side Al-Arabi until 2005 scoring 12 times in 17 appearances.
At this time, the goal poacher was making quite the impression abroad featuring on the ten most promising players in the world poll alongside England legend Wayne Rooney. Ligue 1 side AS Monaco had expressed their interest and had a sh100 million bid turned down by Al-Arabi.
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Instead, Oliech moved to French side Nantes on a four-year-deal worth $3.7 million in 2005 where he played until 2007 racking up four goals in 32 appearances for the club.
On the International scene, the now 32-year–old was making his mark on African Football scoring a hattrick including a winner – a thunderbolt hauler from over 35 yards – against Cape Verde at the 2004 African Cup of Nations qualifier sending Kenya to its first ever African Cup of Nations tournament since the 1996 edition in which the country withdrew from the competition.
Dennis the menace as he is popularly known won the top scorer award in the 2002 edition of the CECAFA cup in which he had scored five goals. At this time, wuod Mary as he was often referred to by his close family and friends, was one of the most feared strikers in the continent.
Technically gifted coupled with blistering pace, power, trickery and directness, the 32-year-old is the country’s record goal scorer, racking up 34 goals in 64 appearances for the Harambee stars, and, at the height of his career, at position 68, Kenya gained its highest ever FIFA ranking.
Although Dennis the menace had already cemented his place as a Kenyan great in the history of football in the country, his greatest ever conquest came in 2004 when he was offered to change his citizenship to Qatari for a very hefty fee, an offer he rejected in the name of patriotism.
A leader of men and a true son of Kenya, Sporta celebrates Dennis Oguta Oliech.