Jimmy Kirunda: A football legend is gone

A football legend Jimmy ‘Kaiser’ Kirunda is gone. Kirunda collapsed in Bwaise a Kampala suburb near Hotel La Grande on Monday 25th May 2020 and was pronounced dead moments later.

Born to the late Henry Kirunda and Constance Nawalu in 1950, Kirunda grew up in Mulago. Kirunda played for KCC FC for a decade from 1969-1979. During this time, he won three league titles with KCC (1976, 1977 and 1981) and two Uganda Cup titles (1980 & 1984)

Kirunda was nicknamed ‘Der Kaiser’ (The Emperor) due to his elegant style, dominance and leadership on the field as a defender (sweeper) yet he was equally as good going forward.

Kirunda’s Life

Kirunda went to Naggalama Islamic and Old Kampala SS where he showed a lot of promise then.

In 1969, Jaberi Badandi Ssali who was the then head coach of KCC got impressed with his abilities and he lured him to Lugogo.

Kirunda was also employed as a sports clerk in Kampala City Council.

He formed a great partnership with current Club Director and legend Tom Lwanga for KCC and Uganda Cranes.

When KCC commenced a trophy haul in 1976 when they won the first league title, Kirunda was a very important figure in the club’s title run in. He went on to help the team successfully defend the league in 1977 and later CECAFA Club Championship in 1978

In 1978, Kirunda emerged as the top scorer with 32 goals in 28 games, a record that stood for 21 years before it was broken by Andrew ‘Fimbo’ Mukasa in 1999.

In the same year, he captained the Uganda Cranes to the Africa Cup of Nations final in Ghana, the Nation’s best performance up to date.

In 1982, he left KCC to join town rivals SC Villa and guided them to their first league title, winning the championship unbeaten.

Jimmy Kirunda at the KCCA FC Awards Dinner 2016

Jimmy Kirunda in summary

Playing Career: Express FC (1968 – 1969), KCC FC (1969 – 1979), Abu Dhabi Sports (1979 – 1980), KCCA, SC Villa.

Managerial Career: He was in charge of SC Villa, Bell FC, KCCA FC, Buikwe Red Stars, Cooperative FC. He also coached Uganda Cranes from 1989 – 1996.

Fact File: Jimmy Kirunda

He captained Uganda for ten years and played in three Africa Cup of Nations (1974, 1976 & 1978)

He won the Cecafa Cup with Uganda in (1969, 1970, 1973, 1976 & 1977.

As Cranes Team Manager, he won three Cecafa Cup titles (1989, 1990 & 1992).

He won three league titles with KCC (1976, 1977 and 1981) and two Uganda Cups (1980 & 1984).

He also won a league title with SC Villa (1982) and one Uganda Cup (1983).

His brothers William Kityo and Dick Bintanula played for KCC and Mulago respectively.

He was league top-scorer in 1978 with 32 goals.

He coached three clubs (Bell, Buikwe & Cooperative).

He made a return to football in 1987 and featured for his Ngeye clan team but later hang his boots again.

The late Jimmy Kirunda will be laid to rest on Wednesday 27th May 2020 at Bugema Village, Bulesa – Mayirye parish at 2pm EAT

May the soul of the faithfully departed rest in eternal peace.

Source: Hassan Badru Zziwa of the Observer Newspaper and Kawowo Sports.