Olunga would occasionally walk from Baba Dogo to City Stadium, on an empty stomach.
“Olunga came from a very humble background. At some point, he couldn’t afford a simple belt.
Sometimes, we would walk on foot, from the stadium to Baba Dogo. We used to train at City stadium those days,” says Odhiambo, also a musician.
In one of his songs, Odhiambo, who goes by the stage name Manizzo, sang about Olunga, who deferred his Geospatial engineering course at the Technical University of Kenya to play abroad.
“He used to be skinny. It is understandable because we were passing through some difficult life,” revealed Ochieng.
According to Ochieng, the most expensive meal that they used to survive on a Chapati ndengu from the local ‘Kibandaski’ that cost Sh30.
“Eating Ugali matumbo was a luxury. The main meal was ether Chapati ndengu or mandazi madondo from vibanda,” added Ochieng, a former Balaji APZ FC tactician.
Odhiambo also rubbed shoulders with Timmy T-Dat, a childhood friend whom they grew up at Kasabuni in Babadogo and whom at one point they were in the same music group.
A certified CAF ‘C’ licensed coach, he still juggles between music and football.
“It requires high discipline to fuse two gifts at the same time,” says Odhiambo as he takes us back to the old days when he used to shout instructions to Olunga, now a millionaire football player.
“Even though currently we don’t communicate frequently, I had a good relationship with him. I coached him at Baba Dogo, then to Liberty, and from there to Aquinas.”
“I didn’t know that one day he will be a millionaire footballer,” adding that Olunga was a bright boy who would score a straight ‘A’ even after skiving classes.
But it was his talent that would shoot him to global stardom playing in various leagues from Spain, Japan, Sweden, China to now Qatar.
“One key characteristic that stood out about him is his discipline. Sometimes he would skip school even for a month but he would score straight ‘As’ in exams.”
But while Olunga has temporarily put on hold his education journey, Manizzo, hopes to kill two birds with a single stone as he chases interests in coaching as well as music.
Odhiambo made his music debut in 2004 with an all-boys group that comprised five artists amongst them Timmy T-Dat. Born in Kisumu but raised in Kasabuni, Babadogo, his musical career had already dominated the airwaves of Eastland by the time he hit 16, a place he has called home ever since he relocated from Kisumu about two decades ago.
by Jael Musumba and Elvince Joshua