He never scored. Didn’t have to. History will always judge him as an integral part of a very unkind defense which leaked only four goals on the way to our first back to back continental appearances in decades.
John McKinstry announced his Afcon 2021 qualifiers squad and we half expected Godfrey Walusimbi to make the list even if he announced his retirement a couple of weeks ago. That is how much of a mainstay he has been for most of the last 10 years.
Opinion about his contribution is uniform in agreement about his quiet but efficient industry and application. He was no Adam Semugabi but like him, he had the bloody-minded tenacity that every good defender must possess. Proof of that lies in all those games he played for, Laszlo Csaba, Bobby Williamson, Micho Sredojevic and Desabre Sebastian.
He never scored. Didn’t have to. History will always judge him as an integral part of a very unkind defense which leaked only four goals on the way to our first back to back continental appearances in decades. Not even Adam Semugabi could call upon such an achievement.
Not bad then for a man who was never vocal and was happy to live in the shadows of his more illustrious countrymen like Denis Onyango or Emmanuel Okwi.
Still he played, not always well, but you always knew what to expect, and that was quiet efficiency. He was there when the team got abused by a nation starved of success or burdened by expectation. Conspiracies, blackmail and player unrest, he lived through them all without missing a stride.
It is, therefore, a mark of professionalism that none of this intrigue soiled Godfrey Walusimbi. He knew when to shut up and play and I guess he also knew when to call it quits.
Typical of his immaculate decision making, that call came after Egypt 2019. He wasn’t the only person whose legs weren’t taking instructions at Egypt 2019. He wasn’t the only person who rioted over unkept promises. He wasn’t the only one to have been to two straight Afcons or played for some of the best clubs on the continent. But I wouldn’t bet against him being the only one who asked himself what else was left to prove?
He is a sensible man our Walusimbi. He knew he was in the evening of his career. He knew that Kaizer chief had deemed him surplus to requirements. He knew that Joseph Ocaya was straining at the leash for that left back slot. He knew that even for the Cranes, the decision to replace him was going to come sooner rather than later, and he decided to save John McKinstry that trouble.
Of course, there always is a tinge of sadness at the setting of the sun on one’s career. And I think Jaja Walu’s lack of a club will sting hard. I hope Fufa is following the matter closely and can invite him to share his rich football experience. Maybe his agent is busy or Jaja Walu has already moved on to other things. So many questions and like for all men, there will be some that remain unanswered. But somehow I suspect Jaja Walu has it all figured out. He always did.