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Jerim joins legends’ league

Gor Mahia captain and goalkeeper Jerim Onyango has joined the league of top achievers in football.

The first choice K’Ogalo goalkeeper played an instrumental role in Gor’s premier league victory after 18 years.

Born in Siaya in 1984, Onyango moved to Nairobi as a toddler with his parents who both loved football.

Having been the preferred goalkeeper at both Kibera Primary School and Rambula Mixed High School, it would follow automatically for him to extend his talent at club level.

Astute saves

After playing for Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) for three years, he was spotted by former Gor head coach James Siang’a in 2007 during a President’s Cup match against Gor.

His astute saves saw KRA force a draw against K’Ogalo, who had also to struggle for a 2-1 win in the return match.

Come the end of the season and Onyango crossed over to the Green Army.

Onyango has been through highs and lows with the club since joining in 2007. A low point in his career was last season when he was blamed for losing the title.

During that season, Gor had 58 points, one less than second-placed Tusker and they needed a win against Thika United on the last day to win the crown.

Onyango conceded a seemingly harmless goal in the first half, which led to a 1-1 draw, handing Tusker, who had hammered City Stars 3-0, the Kenyan Premier League title.

“That was the single worst day of my career. But I didn’t think it was fair to isolate me for blame. When we win, we do it as a team and when we lose, we do it as a team too,” said Onyango.

He has since recovered and won many league games with Gor this season.

Onyango’s mastery between the posts saved the day for Gor on many occasions.

He holds former Manchester United and Ajax goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar and Italy number one Gianluigi Buffon in high regard, and says he has learnt a lot from watching the two great shot stoppers in action.

Alongside the only surviving Siang’a recruits Anthony Akumu, Solomon Nasio, Chris Wekesa and Musa Mohammed, Onyango has come of age to help the club feel a sense of its glory days.

“We were under pressure in the match against Sofapaka but were confident of victory. This season we were more psyched up than ever. We took each game at a time and it worked out,” he adds.

Cult figure

The Kenya international, however, said the team is yet to achieve one of the targets the players had set.

“We promised each other to attain 65 points this year. We are at 56, and have three games left, so we have to win all of them to complete our targets,” Onyango said.

A cult figure in Kibera where he has spent most of his life, Onyango mentors young players in the area together with other local stars like teammate Edwin Lavatsa and Tusker’s Jesse Were.

Onyango said his life revolves around football, and that he dedicates everything he does to his late parents who passed on while he was still in high school.

The goalkeeper said if he had not taken up football, he would have pursued a career in either journalism or hairdressing.

Onyango’s focus is to help deliver a double by winning the GOtv Cup during the final against arch-rivals AFC Leopards.