Former Uganda Cranes captain, Jimmy Kirunda has died at the age of 70.
“One of Uganda’s greatest football players, Jimmy kirunda has passed on,” sports journalist, Ruben Luyombo posted on his facebook wall on Monday afternoon.
Circumstances surrounding Kirunda’s death are still scanty but it has been reported that he passed on from Bwaise, a Kampala suburb.
“The legend is gone. Sad times for the football fraternity,”local football governing body, FUFA eulogised the departed Cranes skipper.
Born in 1950 , Jimmy Kirunda played for Express FC between 1968 and 1969 before joining KCC(currently KCCA) where he plied his trade for 10 years until 1979 and joined Abu Dhabi Sports Club .
He later returned to Lugogo at KCC and later SC Villa.
In his career he won three league titles with KCC in 1974, 1976 and 1978, two Uganda Cups in 1980 and 1984 whereas at SC Villa, he won the league title in 1982 and the Uganda Cup a year later in 1983.
Jimmy Kirunda captained Uganda for 10 years that included playing at the coveted African Nations Cup three times in 1974, 1976 and 1978.
The most memorable one being in 1978 where he guided Cranes to the Afcon finals where Uganda lost 2-0 to hosts Ghana.
Talking about the tournament, Kirunda savoured every moment of it but said he cannot remember how he guided the team to the finals.
“I can’t explain how we did it because everyone thought we were the underdogs. The team worked so hard and even after losing to Ghana we were content because reaching the final was a bonus,”Kirunda told Daily Monitor in a 2010 interview.
As a player, Kirunda also won the CECAFA Cup with the national team in 1969, 1970, 1973, 1976 and 1977 whereas as the Cranes team manager, he won three CECAFA Cup titles.
Described by many as one of the best African footballers of his generation, Kirunda achieved was an outstanding defender but also was also a gem when it came to his attacking abilities.
It is therefore not by surprise that he was the top scorer in the Ugandan league with 32 goals while playing with KCC in 1978.
Speaking about rising football stars in Uganda, Kirunda urged them to always be disciplined but also listen to coaches’ instructions.
“Discipline is paramount in such tournaments and these future stars should adopt it .The reason I played football for 15 years is because I was disciplined and used to listen to my coaches,”Kirunda told Daily Monitor in 2012.