Arguably one of the the best midfielders to ever play for Kenya, Titus Mulama was born in 1978 in Homa Bay. He attended Dr Aggrey Primary school in Ziwani, Nairobi before joining Aquinas High School between 1994 and 1998. He kicked off his football career with Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) and was part of the squad that played in the famous Norway Cup in 1996. In 1998 he joined the Mathare United senior team. He went on to feature for ten other clubs within and outside the country before hanging boots at Kenyan Premier League (KPL) side Sofapaka in 2013. Nothing much has been heard of him since then and we sought to find out what he has been doing.
You went off the radar after you left Sofapaka in 2013. What have you been up to?
(Laughs) Well, I have been doing a lot but mainly I decided to focus in developing young talent from Huruma, Nairobi as well as working with the Soccer School Kenya and that basically is what I have been doing.
What exactly do you do in Huruma and at Soccer School Kenya?
After I stopped playing actively in 2013 I decided to start Hurricanes Football Academy in Huruma, Nairobi where I grew up, as a way of giving back to the society. I felt it was my responsibility to mold the next big stars and working with young players gives me satisfaction. Soccer School Kenya on the other hand tailor makes football training programmes and coaches young players across different schools in Nairobi.
Why really did you unexpectedly hang up your boots?
(Shakes his head) I stopped playing for the National team, Harambee Stars in 2012 because I felt I had achieved what I had to and that was helping the team get to the African Cup of Nations in 2004.
I wasn’t getting younger to be honest and I felt I should give upcoming players the chance to represent the nation.
I joined Sofapaka at the beginning of 2013 on a two-year contract but unfortunately got an injury only four months into the contract. The club decided to terminate my contract and never issued any compensation. At that moment I decided to stop playing actively and I have never looked back.
Speaking of AFCON 2004, how did it feel to score that goal against Mali?
Well at that particular moment I felt good since it was an equalizing goal and generally we knew we had the quality and pedigree to win the match. So it felt nice to level the scores and it is a moment I will forever cherish.
You joined the senior Mathare United team in 1998 but rarely played for two years. What kept you going?
I joined the team straight from High School and I was honestly still very young. The team had very good players in midfield; the likes of Francis Kimanzi, Jack Oguda, Maurice Wambua, Teddy Rogers among others and there’s no way I could have gone straight into the starting eleven. I had gone through the Mathare System and it was therefore easy for me to fit into the senior team. I only played two matches in two years but it was a good learning curve for me. The coaches were preparing me for the future and I learnt a lot during that period.
Growing up which player did you look up to?
Outside the country I really looked up to and admired David Beckham. His technique was unique and I always tried to emulate him. Kenya Breweries FC’s (Tusker FC) Edward Desh Karanja, Dan Ogada (Gor Mahia) and Nick Yakhama (Mumias Sugar FC) were the Kenyan midfielders that I looked up and it was an absolute pleasure to play against them later in my career.
What was your highest moment (s) as footballer?
While growing up I always wanted to play for the National team and help the nation qualify for a major tournament. I was very confident in my ability and skills – I honestly believed I was the missing puzzle in the National team so it felt really nice when I finally made it to the National and was among the players that created history by qualifying for the 2004 AFCON. That is one of my highest moments as a footballer.
Also, when I started playing football as a teenager, my biggest dream was to play in Europe at whatever level and I was really happy when I joined Vasteras SK in Sweden. That was another moment I’ll forever cherish.
What of your lowest moment in football?
The way Sofapaka dismissed me in 2013 really disappointed me. I had a good relationship with the club president and coach as well and I think I deserved better. That was the lowest moment for me although I already made peace with them but I wouldn’t wish any footballer to be treated in the manner the club did to me.
Who would you rate as the best midfielders in Kenya at the moment?
Without a doubt number one on my list has to be Kenneth Muguna. I honestly first heard of him when he won the MVP Award in 2016 and decided to watch a few Gor Mahia matches this season in the stadia and on TV as well and oh boy! The lad is special.
Humphrey Mieno has been consistent and I also rank him as one of the best midfielders. His teammate Anthony Ndolo is also good. Those three are the best midfielders in the Kenyan Premier League in my opinion.
We are yet to qualify for any major tournament after AFCON 2004. What do you think ails the national team?
We do not lack good players, we actually have them in plenty but I think there’s no harmony in the dressing room. The players don’t seem to be fighting the same course as individuals are eager to shine and not fight for the team. This is something that should be handled right from the management to the coaches and finally the players. If we win as a team then individuals will definitely reach the high levels they aspire. Football is a team sport and that is what really matters – team work.
We should also develop the talent from a young age. Have serious academies that nurture fighters’ right from when they are young. Make them competitive such that by the time they are 18 even when they get to the top level they are not afraid of the big stage. Club’s should stop the short-termism of going for ready-made players and have youth structures because that’s the only way to have sustainable success in football. There are no shortcuts.
You first played for the National team in October 2000 against Zimbabwe. How was that like for you bearing in mind you were only 20 then?
Well I went out there to enjoy myself like I always do and it was a very nice game and huge learning opportunity for me. Zimbabwe was a very good team and a tough nut to crack. The stadium was full to the rafters and this was a very new experience for me. We lost 2-0 but picked very valuable lessons.
Who is the toughest player (s) you’ve ever faced in your career?
There are four players that I had a silent battle with during my playing years; Nick Yakhama (Mumias Sugar FC), Edward Karanja (Kenya Breweries FC), Hillary Echesa (Nzoia Sugar FC) and Dan Ogada (Gor Mahia). They were all very good players and anytime I faced them I tried to outdo him but it was never easy. They were the best midfielders back then.
And the best teammate you’ve ever played with and why?
That has to be my brother Simeon Mulama. We had this perfect understanding on the pitch and by just look on his face I would tell where he wanted me to place the ball. I knew what he expected of me on the pitch and vice versa. Our partnership at Mathare United was arguably one of the best.
If you weren’t a football player, what profession would you have gone into?
I definitely would have been a comedian. I love seeing people happy and having fun.
Do you want to coach at the top level one day?
Honestly no. I want to specialize in being a youth coach and developing young talent for the clubs and National team. That is what gives me joy; seeing a player that passed through my hands doing well at the top level.
Who would say has played the biggest role in your career?
That has to be my brother Simeon Mulama. He would encourage me right from when we were young and even when I became a senior player and felt like giving up he was always there for me. He made it in football before me and encouraged me to follow on his footsteps. I can confidently say I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for him. Coach Jacob Ghost Mulei also believed in me and introduced me into the National team in 2001 and that is when my career picked up. He played a very big role in my career.