Long before Stephen Kiprotich became a household name in Ugandan sport, Issa Sekatawa was the first iconic figure.
After arriving at Jinja-based Nytil FC in 1979, Sekatawa quickly established himself as a goal poacher by guiding his side to runners-up position in the 1980 topflight league. In 1981, Sekatawa cemented his position as the hottest striker by topping the charts with 24 league goals. This sparked off a scramble for his signature and Express FC managed to secure his services for the 1982 season.
At the time, Express was still in the process of regrouping but Sekatawa’s goal-scoring instincts propelled the Red Eagles into contenders. Sekatawa scored goals at will; from all angles and with different styles. Not surprisingly, he finished the 1982 and 1983 seasons as league top-scorer.
A jolly figure on and off the pitch, Sekatawa was adored by fans from all clubs and regularly moved around Kampala streets with a legion of followers. He was the biggest name in Ugandan sport. Sekatawa-mania reached fever-pitch when shoe company Bata contracted him to market a sneaker brand, which sold like hot cake.
Thereafter, several textile companies seized the opportunity to bank on his popularity by making special Sekatawa T-shirts emblazoned with the message ‘Goals are my business.’
Such was his iconic status that he won many sponsorship deals to endorse other merchandises like soft drinks.
All the while, he scored goals for fun in national team colours and with left winger Fred Mukasa providing most of the assists, Sekatawa was unstoppable. However, a series of injuries ruined his career and he slowly lost appeal and by the time he won his first league title in 1991 as a KCC player, he had become just any other team member.