It is easy to understand why many in the game fetishize the one-club man. In many of our minds he typifies what football should be about and in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL), that man can be Gor Mahia’s Musa Mohamed.
When a player plays for one club for almost the entirety of his career many of the ardent football followers view this as a more worthwhile and a virtuous career than those who chop and change clubs and the KPL has produced the latter in abundance.
The current transfer window, just as any other, will see movement of players from one team to another and it’s no sin. The sin comes with the motive of the moves. Money has been the main motive of the hurried moves. From six month contracts to players just moving across to increase the zeros in their pay checks-and that’s where we are getting it wrong.
Admittedly there is much to be said for the loyalty of individuals such as Musa Mohammed. It is natural that fans will warm to players who dedicate their careers to their club. I would contend there is more to be said for one-club men who stick with clubs slightly lower down the pecking order. It is easy - for instance - for Mohammed to stay at Gor Mahia. Why would he want to move when he is in one of the best teams in the league. I think there is something admirable in Musa staying at a club like Gor Mahia when he could have earned more elsewhere.
Musa’s stance quashes the myths that the journeymen earn and achieve more in their careers. Those men who are forever on the highways and by-ways of Kenya, forever starting at a new club every transfer window, forever pulling on a new strip as the transfer window opens. Men who once had high hopes but as time went, the look of grim determination and old pro guile becomes the defining feature replacing the vim and brio of youth. The bitterness, that jaded quality, may be the reason why as time goes on they stay at clubs for shorter and shorter spells.
Why these nomadic moves? Is it because - despite the rumors of vast wealth in the game - they need to pay their bills? This is a profession, a job and all footballers seek work (so they say) but has Musa complained that he isn't paying his bills because he has stuck with Gor? Is it because they just love playing football and will do anything to continue? Possibly (possibly not). It might be that they are hoping beyond hope that they'll find their feet and form, scoring goals again like they did in the past and they too - like so many of us five-a-side dreamers - can touch their youth again but the nomadic movement doesnt guarantee this.
There are some similarities of all the great journeymen. There is usually a career high when they sparkle, briefly. A true journeyman tumbles down the divisions from a career high. This tumbling turns into a rapid decline and, usually, the new clubs become more frequent and the number of games played each time dwindles and that has become a norm in the KPL, a norm that has ruined careers that once sparkled.