By Umaru Kashaka
The Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) has led tributes to former Uganda Cranes midfielder, Willy Kyambadde, who died on Monday morning.
Kyambadde, who was nicknamed ‘Black Maradona’ while playing in Vietnam, died at his home in Kawempe, a Kampala suburb, after struggling with alcohol abuse for many years.
He also played for Express and KCCA football clubs as a midfielder, showing a unique way of dribbling and passing the ball. Kyambadde battled liver complications and was discharged from a rehabilitation centre in Mpigi district early this year, where he had been admitted for three months.
“It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that we have learned of the passing of former Uganda Cranes player Jamil Willy Kyambadde. We join the rest of the Ugandan football fraternity and beyond in conveying our heartfelt condolences to friends and family,” FUFA wrote on its Twitter handle.
Pius Ngabo, a former player, and assistant coach at Express FC, said Kyambadde’s contribution to Ugandan football cannot be underestimated.
“He played football in such a way that amazed many; the quick dribbles, pinpoint accurate passes and plethora of scoring chances he created for his teammates,” he recalled.
Kyambadde was unearthed and nurtured by Sheikh Jamil Kakeeto during his days as Naggalama Islamic SS principal.
He was part of the team that competed in the 1996 CAF Champions League. In a media interview in April 2023, Kyambadde vowed to himself to stop drinking and focus on living a meaningful life. He sadly relapsed on the alcohol and was addicted up to the time of his death