NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 18 – Harambee Stars First Choice goalkeeper Patrick Matasi, now headed to Ethiopian club St. George, has paid glowing tribute to his former coach at AFC Leopards Jan Koops, saying the Dutchman played a crucial role in helping him learn the ropes of top flight football.
Matasi on Thursday evening sealed a three-year deal to join the Ethiopian giants, putting to an end a six-month stay with 11-time Kenyan Premier League champions Tusker FC.
“Koops was the first person who gave me an opportunity in the KPL. He believed in me even with little experience and he gave me an opportunity to be his first-choice keeper. He was always there to encourage me even as I was growing and was very patient with me,” Matasi told Capotal Sport in Ethiopia, fresh from sealing the deal.
The shot stopper joined AFC Leopards from West Kenya Sugar at the start of the 2011 season after guiding the then second tier side to the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Shield final where they lost 2-0 to Sofapaka.
The goalkeeper has also paid tribute to his first football coach Fanuel Ivungwe who signed him up at West Kenya.
“He literally picked me up from sugarcane plantations and brought me into the team,” Matasi said of his first tactician.
Also topping Matasi’s list of influencers include Tusker FC head coach Robert Matano and his keeper trainer Haggai Azande as well as the Posta Rangers duo of Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo and Lawrence Webo.
The goalkeeper who has slowly become Kenya’s most trusted pair of hands keeping four consecutive clean sheets for the national team Harambee Stars says it is a dream come true making his first move out of the country.
“This is a dream come true for me because I have worked hard for it and was always looking forward to the chance. It has finally come and I can’t explain how happy I am. I want to give my best for St. Georges and I know it will not be a walk in the park,” the keeper said.
He added; “As a foreigner, you are expected to double your efforts. I know I come here to replace a very good goalkeeper (Ugandan Robert Odongkara) and the pressure is high. But I am equal to it.”
St. Georges have been trailing the keeper for a while now and watched him closely last Wednesday during Harambee Stars’ 0-0 draw with Ethiopia in Bahir Dar.
He will become the second Kenyan keeper to play in Ethiopia after former Sofapaka and KCB keeper Zachary Onyango who played for Ethiopia Coffee in 2012.
St. Georges are the heavyweights of Ethiopian football having won the league for a record 27 times and the Ethiopian Cup 11 times. They were the first professional Ethiopian football club established in1935 and were a symbol of resistance for the Ethiopians during the Italian occupation.