Veteran Kenyan and Nairobi City Stars midfielder Peter ‘Pinchez’ Opiyo feels he owes record Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions Gor Mahia for helping him improve as a player.
The Chania High alumnus, who joined City Stars early in the year, has so far had an illustrious career featuring for top clubs both locally and abroad.
The much-travelled midfielder began his career at Tusker Youth (2004-2008) before turning out for Thika United, Gor Mahia, Tusker senior team, AFC Leopards, FF Jaro (Finland) and Indian side Viva Kerala.
Opiyo won the 2009 KPL best midfielder award, runners-up best player and runners-up young player of the year while on loan at Gor Mahia from Thika United. He had led the late James Siang’a-coached side to fifth-place finish that season after garnering 46 points, 13 points behind champions Sofapaka.
Despite winning the 2012 league title with Tusker, GOtv Shield at AFC Leopards in 2013 capping with the 2013 Cecafa Senior challenge Cup with Harambee Stars, Opiyo is still grateful to K’Ogalo for giving him an opportunity to develop his career.
Interestingly, it was his goal in the 2013 domestic cup final that denied Gor a double.
“I found Gor Mahia was rebuilding under coach James Siangá (RIP) and I joined them in (February) 2009 on loan,” Opiyo told the club’s website.
“Being young and bubbly, and given the fact I couldn’t be absorbed in Thika, the youth in me, and the lot I found at Gor had everything to prove. I guess that’s where everything started hitting a high for me including a national team call up.”
But even as he continues to savour his 2013 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup glory, Opiyo who made 34 appearances for the national team revealed suffering an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury in 2015 as the biggest regret in his career.
“It’s every players’ dream to play for the national team. The caps are extremely important and that opened a lot of doors for me. Winning Cecafa simply crowned my four years in the national team setup,” said Opiyo.
“But my biggest regret was when I injured my ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) in late 2015. I couldn’t do anything to prevent it though.”
Opiyo went on to explain how difficult it was for him to play against former Sofapaka midfielders Humphrey Mieno and Abdi Simba.
“Players who made me lose sleep were midfield generals Humphrey Mieno and Abdi Simba formerly of Bandari and Sofapaka,” he said.
Though City Stars were recently controversially promoted back to the topflight football alongside Bidco United by Football Kenya Federation, which is now subject to a decision by the Sports Disputes Tribunal, Opiyo is confident the team will do well in KPL.
“With the City Stars’ president’s support, the kind of coach that we have, we only need to add a few more quality to help the already able playing unit. But collectively, the team has a good blend of players from the young to the experienced.”