NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 20 –Most of the times, his confidence would be quietly mistaken as arrogance. He was among the most confident coaches in the Kenyan Premier League, one who believed in his methods and one who did not shy away in shoving himself into challenges.
“I can beat AFC Leopards even with my eyes closed,” Omino quipped in one of the many phone interviews with Capital Sport, always looking forward to playing an opponent he had relished beating in his career as a coach straight from the 80’s.
Nicknamed Zagallo after former Brazilian forward Mario Zagallo, the tactician who coached the likes of Kisumu Posta in his early days as a coach was full off life and even in defeat, always wore his cheeky smile.
Early Friday morning, however, the man who has shaped Kisumu football over the years heard the final whistle in the game of his life at his rural home in Siaya after succumbing to thyroid cancer, an ailment he had bravely fought for the last five years.
“He was in Nairobi to get some treatment early this month at the Texas Cancer Centre in Madaraka, but he was told to go back home first because there was some specific medication he was using that was currently not available,” his son Ronald Omino, who turns out for Kakamega Homeboyz told Capital Sport.
“He had been in and out of hospital for most of this year and when he passed on last night, he was at our rural home in Siaya,” the son further stated.
“It is a huge loss for us as a family because he was our pillar and the man who held us together. But it is God’s will and we have to accept as much as it is hard,” stated the midfielder who has also featured for Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards.
On the interwebs, football fans mourned the loss of the 71-year old who was revered by friend and foe.
“My sincere condolences to the family of Henry Omino. He was a highly respected coach and tough competitor during my time in Kenya. He also helped me on many occasions. RIP,” former Gor Mahia head coach Frank Nuttal said.
“Our heartfelt condolences and thoughts go out to his family and friends at this terribly difficult time as well as everyone that worked alongside Henry Omino,” AFC Leopards, the club he loved beating posted on their official Facebook account.
Current Homeboyz coach Nicholas Muyoti who encountered his prowess and confidence time and again during his time at AFC Leopards has also paid homage to the coach, he refers to as a friend and a father.
“I loved his confidence a lot. During my time at Leopards he would always tell us we have already lost even before we go into the pitch and that really worked to his advantage psychologically. He was above all a friend and a mentor. Whenever we would talk he would give me advice on how to go about in my young coaching career. He is a man we will miss a lot,” Muyoti said.
He added; “On the outside, he looked a very serious man, but when you interacted with him, you would be amazed at his humour and bigger than life attitude. We will miss the man, the person and the coach.”
Current Western Stima boss Salim Babu also eulogized his predecessor. “I t is a painful loss to be honest and I am still pained. I was shocked to hear the news this morning and it is hard to believe. He has been a role model for me and I always sought advise from his wealth of knowledge whenever things did not work out well for me.”
Sofapaka coach John Baraza said; “He is a coach I have known since his days at Kisumu Posta and he was a good example to upcoming players and coaches as well. He has been the center of unearthing very many talented players from Kisumu and to the football family, this is a huge loss for us. His experience is unmatched.”
Kenneth Muguna, the current Gor Mahia captain is one of the players he unearthed, giving him a chance to shine after signing him from Palos FC as a young boy straight from school.
On his Facebook page, the midfielder posted a moving tribute to the tactician, complete with a photo of him covering his eyes.
“There are no words to express the pain am going through right now. It’s a sad moment of losing my former coach, father and a Legend of the game. I love u and you will be missed so much. RESPECT SIR,” Muguna posted.
Omino had most of his latter days coaching career with Western Stima, guiding them to the final of the KPL Top 8 Cup in 2011 where they lost to Ulinzi Stars.
His last coaching gig was with newly promoted Kisumu All Stars, but he left the post in January due to the team’s dwindling fortunes.
In one of his last interviews with Capital Sport during his time at All Stars, Omino said he had hoped to get them survive relegation, but he left before he could accomplish that dream.