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How hip dislocation ended striker Daniel Ochieng's career

Former Sony Sugar striker Daniel Ochieng in his home town, Luanda, Vihiga County. [Julius Jumah, Standard]

Daniel Ochieng would have bitten your finger off had you told him that April 2, 2017, was the last time he was going to kick a match ball given his cult hero status that he had acquired at Sony Sugar since joining them in 2016.

The striker penned a three-year deal with the millers and became an integral part of the club, scoring goals for fun to instil hope and belief in the fan base that Sony Sugar was destined for their first FKF Premier League title since 2006.

Then came that fateful afternoon, the 2006 champions at home to Thika United at the Awendo Green Stadium on matchday three of the 2017 FKF PL season.

At exactly 1pm, the referee got the game underway, Ochieng leading Salim Babu’s attacking trident but that would not be his day as he was substituted in the second half with a hip dislocation although Sony won 1-0 courtesy of an Amos Asembeka 88th minute strike.

“We hang up in the air with one of Thika United’s defenders, but he did not jump as high as I did. So, when I was descending, he pushed me a little and I landed awkwardly. I felt some pain but it eased and I continued playing until the second half. After the game, started feeling a lot of pain,” Ochieng recalls.

That would be the start of the predicaments for the Elwasa Boys alumnus, and unknown to him, it would also be the end of his career.

Though at the peak of his career, the striker 27-year-old was destined for a lengthy spell on the medical bed and unknown to him, he would have to bear the cost of the treatment with his then employer all but playing the delay tactic.

Former Sony Sugar striker Daniel Ochieng when he visited Kakamega Orthopaedic Hospital in Kakamega County, in 2021. [KEFWA]

Ochieng divulges that proper medical care was a mirage despite having a running contract with the club and having sustained the injury in the line of duty. He underwent another surgery in November last year after his leg developed reinfection. 

“When I was required to go for a checkup, I could go to the office but they would tell me they do not have finances. I was always forced to take part of my salary to go to the hospital. I was using my personal savings. Another funny thing is that in 2018, my contract was terminated,” Ochieng tearfully recounts.

His biggest dream was to wear the national team colours, but that may just remain to be a dream for a man who is still reeling from a hip injury close to five years after he last kicked the ball.

The striker has come to terms with the fact that he cannot play again and never for Harambee Stars.

“My dream was to don the Harambee Stars jersey. I wanted to play for the national team. Even just once, that feeling is all I wanted. But for now, football is past tense. I cannot play again,” said Ochieng.

The team has been named renamed Gusii FC and is currently participating in the National Super League after a private individual took over its management from struggling Sony Sugar Company.

But there is a ray of hope for Ochieng as the company has reached out to the striker promising to give him a shot in the arm.

“I went there (at Sony Sugar Company offices) together with other people and filed some insurance forms. We were then told to wait for a phone call. It was around October 2021 but they are yet to call,” the former Western Stima man said.

Ochieng now spends his time at the Luanda Shopping Center, limping on crutches from one spot to another, his face full of resilience but his hearty teary and weary; an excerpt from the national anthem, justice be our shield and defender, a daily prayer by the former striker.

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