Cranes goalkeeper Denis Onyango picked yet another accolade, to add to his already bulging trophy cabinet on Friday July 14.
Onyango was crowned sportsman of the year 2016 during the Nile Special-sponsored Uganda Sports Press Association (Uspa) awards gala at the Imperial Royale hotel.
However, even Onyango, who is a seasoned professional, and has been exposed to such occasions once too often, was overawed by emotion. As he walked up to the podium to pick his award, he held back his tears. Onyango has received so much love and backing, than he probably could have imagined.
He said in his acceptance speech: “This has been an unbelievable year for me. But I could never have achieved all this without my wife and kids, my teammates in The Cranes and Sundowns and the support staff. And to you the fans, that voted me, thank you.”
It was a moving tribute by Onyango, who received a standing ovation from the audience, on top of the hugs and a strong handshake from Major General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the first son, who was chief guest. Onyango was embedded with dignitaries.
At this point, 2016 will live long in the heart of Onyango, after he was also voted Africa’s best player by Caf in January. But in the same breath, Onyango was just a talking point to a colourful and glamorous event.
Based on a dress theme ‘Made of Uganda’, most patrons that graced the Uspa awards wore African-oriented attires from gomesi, kanzu, bitengi, mushanana to Nigerian, as Onyango appeared.
While some defied the set dress-code, it was all good in the suits and dinner dresses, as were the performances of musicians Irene Ntale and Geo-steady on the night. For what it is worth, Uspa were the biggest winners.
Not only did they fulfill a ritual, after a tough year, after Nile Special’s contract had run out, Uspa received Shs 30 million for its Sacco from the president through the chief guest, to crown it all.