The long journey to Lawrence Webo's success
The long journey to Lawrence Webo's success
29 years ago in a small village in Lurambi Kakamega , CAF commissioner Emily Webo became a proud mother to a young Lawrence Wafula Oduki Webo. Oblivious of his future, the late mother of 5 never projected that his son Webo will rise to fame and become one of the best soccer icons to grace the nation as Webo reveals in an exclusive interview with Michezo afrika.
Well, Currently, Afc leopards custodian Lawrence Webo is undoubtedly the best performing goalkeeper in the Kenyan premier league if not East Africa.
Webo commenced his career late into his high school years having concentrated his early years on playing handball despite being aware of his soccer competence.Webo lay low at Kimilili high school until when his name miraculously appeared on the newspapers as being one of the under 17 best goalkeepers selected to feature in an international tournament.
This happened after his mother sneaked him out of school so he could stand between the posts for the then famous Chasamisi high school. It was his agile command in goal at Bukhungu stadium with his primary school gymnastics experience that earned him the position in the junior national team much to the awe of his school principal and mates.
While at Kimilili boys, his newly discovered talent earned him a direct signing to the then Nation wide side Kimilili all stars where he traded between books and soccer whole of his fourth year.
After his KCSE in 1995, Webo under the influence of her CAF commissioner mum signed up for the then lethal team Scarlet fc where he unfortunately warmed the bench as third choice keeper for two inactive seasons.
While playing rural December political sponsored tournaments in Bungoma in 1996, his skills were noticed by the then Bata bullets team manager who signed him within a day ready for a friendly match against Robert Matano’s Kimbo fc to the surprise of many who were startled as to where he had hidden his agility for so long when Kenya was ailing from a series of poor goalkeeping. At the time the best Kenyan goalkeepers included, Francis Onyiso, Mathew Owino Ottomax and the late Victor Waweru.
Despite having pushed for his career in football, in 1998 Webo’s mother remained skeptical about his son’s fate in soccer and opted to take him to NYS where he graduated and rose to the ranks of sergeant within the NYS .Webo later became a recruits trainer as his mother kept pushing for him to join the army much to the resistance of her son.
While at NYS Webo gave soccer a cold shoulder for the second time in favor of handball and played for the Gilgil paratroopers’ handball team for over a year.
His soccer fortune resurfaced only after- “orders from above” - during a friendly match against scarlet his first professional team after high school. This was after his senior officers at NYS received word that he is an awesome talent in goal from their Scarlet counterparts.
His Re-discovered soccer prowess and inner passion sent him to ditch his NYS senior job for a soccer career at the newly formed Sulmac fc much to the disappointment of his mother. Webo later crossed fence to the next club Sher agencies with his former team mate Jacob Omondi where they aided the now Karuturi sports to qualify for Kenya’s top flight league KPL (Kenya premier league).
It was while at Sher agencies when he received his first call up to Jacob Ghost Mulee’s harambee stars but his will to adorn the number one jersey was covered with a dark cloud when FIFA banned Kenya following Najib Balala’s alleged interference with the running of soccer. After this Harambee stars demise, Webo was quickly snatched by the then top team in the country Mumias sugar fc where he became first choice goalkeeper to aid Mumias sugar go for an entire season unbeaten with a record 7 goals against his sheet.
Mumias were however denied victory after being eliminated by Tusker in the KFF introduced mini league on post match penalties at Kasarani.
After the Tusker loss, Webo’s heroism never allowed him the return journey back to Mumias as he took a night flight in response to an urgent phone call straight for a well paying contract with Rayon Sportif of Rwanda.
It was while in Rwanda that Webo first hit the headlines with a possible citizenship change to Rwanda. The Rwandan fans who adored his skills demanded that the country offers Webo citizenship so he can play for their Rwandan national soccer outfit.
“This was a tight corner for me, at first I was a bit confused but then looking at the grid- locked untimely Rwandan league in comparison to the potential of the ever growing league back home especially with the coming of supersport, I had to make a choice.”
To end the nationality change fiasco, Webo opted to prematurely terminate his contract at Rayon with his current club afc leopards parting with a hefty amount for his transfer to Ingwe where he currently plies his career.
“I thank God for Afc, I have been very comfortable here and the fans are adorable and supportive, this has also given me a chance to play for the national team and I thank God that I made the right decision”
Webo’s first national cap and the long searched number one jersey he has adorned in the last two national assignments against Uganda is not fluke; he believes he has worked hard for the same to be where he is. “Becoming number one is not the problem, maintaining the number one jersey is the hurdle” He says as he remains steadfast to his hard work in order to maintain the jersey for future assignments.
In the recent past, Lawrence Webo has come to the rescue of Ingwe when they seemed hopeless with some of his memorable games being in Ethiopia during their return leg match against Ethiopian Banks fc where he ignored the deafening,mammoth enthusiastic Ethiopian crowd to single handedly stop the banker’s raids with spectacular saves in more than 25 occasions in one match. After the game Webo became the talk of Addis Ababa for weeks and to date he is among the most sought after goalkeepers by the Bank’s management in Addis.
Most recently in a local derby against Gor mahia, Webo soothed the hearts of Ingwe lovers when he aided Afc to outclass their perennial rivals Gor mahia 1-0.
“I like working under pressure, its fun, it also helps you to gain ability to remain composed in tense situations” these are Webo’s words not common with most local players who crack under immense pressure.
He says having traversed many clubs and played under different circumstances has helped him gain a lot of experience and composure in goal.
“I think I was warming up my career, am now starting to play soccer and am ready for the world”
He is eager to gain international exposure and wishes to play professional soccer in either Europe or South Africa. Webo is thankful to the current sponsorship and live transmissions by Super sports as he sees it as great exposure for him and other upcoming premier league talents like George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo and Paul Were.
Above all Webo thanks God for putting him where he is and extends his gratitude to his wife Christine, Daughter Kay and lovely son Austin whom he says have been very supportive and patient for all these years.
We wish him all the best in his career and quest for further excellence.