He was the first national soccer coach to take Kenya to the African Cup of Nations.
Eckhard Krautzun, 82 today, was the fifth tactician for Harambee Stars after arriving here from (West) Germany as a callow 29-year-old in 1970.
Before him, there were Ray Bachelor, Peter Oronge, Jackie Gibbons, and Elijah Lidonde in a lineup of over 30 national soccer team coaches.
Each had interesting stints: Bachelor, hired in 1961, was once forced out by a player revolt before Stars were beaten 13-0 by Ghana when he took over four hours after Oronge, fearing that Mzee Jomo Kenyatta might attend, abandoned Harambee Stars four hours before the duel to celebrate Kenya's first Jamhuri Day in 1964!
Gibbons, a former player for Tottenham Hotspurs, came to work for Coca-Cola when he was hired in 1966 while Lidonde was picked the following year largely for his exploits for AFC Leopards which included breaking goalkeeper's hands with killer shots.Then enter Eckhard Krautzun, one among a retinue of German coaches to leave a philosophical and tactical impact on local soccer.
The former midfielder for Union Solingen, FC Kaiserslautern, and TeBe Berlin, had only coached one team-, Young Fellows of Zurich-which he had also played for, before taking Harambee Stars. Krautzun introduced a goalkeeping coach and player formations like 4-4-2 and 4-3-3, hitherto unheard of. Krautzun's Harambee Stars included James Sianga, Daniel Nicodemus 'Arudhi', Pele Ouma, Jackson Aluko, John Chore, Charles Makunda, Samson Odore, Daniel Anyanzwa, Allan Thigo, John Nyawanga, William 'Chege' Ouma and Steve 'McQueen' Yongo and Jonathan Niva.
Interestingly, Kenya beat Ethiopia 2-0 in Nairobi but when the Ugandan referee Malik Rajab awarded a penalty in the 60th minute, and Niva scored in their return leg in Addis Ababa, all hell broke loose. Ethiopian fans and some cops descended on Kenyans players six of who were hospitalized at the Police Hospital.
Krautzun nursed a swollen head bruise and later lamented that "this is the worst I have seen in coaching in many, many countries. The fans behaved like wild animals."
Harambee Stars still qualified after beating Mauritius to feature in our debut Cup of Nations in Cameroon in 1972 before Krautzun unceremoniously bolted leaving Niva as the player and coach.
Kenya was in Group A with Cameroon, Mali, and Togo and was bundled out in the preliminary stages. We lost 2-1 to Cameroon with a goal from Jonathan in the 44th minute. We drew 1-1 with Mali and Togo with the late Nicodemus Arudhi, a legendary thief, and Pele Ouma scoring both goals, respectively.
Krautzun later coached two national teams for Canada and Tunisia and 23 soccer teams including the Vancouver Whitecaps in North America among his charges included German legend Gerd Muller. By 2001, Krautzun was a technical director in China and Korea before taking Tunisia to the 2002 World Cup in Japan/South Korea but resigned ahead of the tourney citing interference from the Tunisian FA.