Injuries and Bad Luck: The Story of Paul Were

The day is September 26th 2010. Kenya U-20 coach Vince Ombiji brought on a young and promising player as the national junior side took on Lesotho. The rookie had an almost immediate impact, as he ran down the Lesotho defense rugged. Fleet foot works, pacy and pin point crosses made him a darling to the fans instantly. Kenya’s next big thing was alive.

The day is September 26th 2010. Kenya U-20 coach Vince Ombiji brought on a young and promising player as the national junior side took on Lesotho. The rookie had an almost immediate impact, as he ran down the Lesotho defense rugged. Fleet foot works, pacy and pin point crosses made him a darling to the fans instantly. Kenya’s next big thing was alive.

He went on and made a name for himself in the topflight league, and set the league ablaze with his sensational runs and pace. His contribution to both Tusker and AFC Leopards was certainly unmatched. While he ran riot on the pitch and dominated sports headlines with goals and assists, he also made headlines in the wrong areas, always rubbing shoulders the wrong way with coaches and fans, thanks to claims of indiscipline. That, never slowed him. Like many talented locals, he became ripe, and packed for greener pastures across borders.

Things did not really work out. Not once. Not twice. A meteoric rise to the top was suddenly suffering an unexpected slowdown. He is back into the country.

Kenyanstar brings you an exclusive and candid interview with Paul Were where he speaks about his career that has suffered major injury blows, discipline and why he is on a break.

Kenyanstar: Thank you for taking time to talk to us Paul. Kindly give us a brief on your career so far?

Paul Were: My career has been  shaky and wavy since I left Kenya but I thank God for the opportunities.I have always given my best and still hope for the best.

KS: You have been in at least three clubs in recent  years. What has influenced your movement?

PW: I have had really tough and hard decisions to make in my moves. No one understands what people go through. Unfortunately most of them believe what is only said in the press. We get judged by our decisions and our past. However, whenever I make a move, I consider what impact it will have in my career and what I will achieve.

KS: You have added to the statistics of Kenyan players who have left South Africa in just a couple of months. What could be the reason for these fast departures?

PW: My move  to South Africa was quite interesting. I had a problem with my work permit which made me miss like 8 games. Nonetheless, my coach then did believe in me and things went well. Unfortunately, he got sacked months in. A new coach was hired and as you are aware, he comes in with a new philosophy and his prefered players. I guess this somewhat affected me. Things got worse for the club and myself when we got relegated.

For the case of Kenyan footballers, it is not about departures. Football is what we love to do and what we call our life, and career. So if you’re not comfortable and happy where you are, you certainly will move. The South African League is great and one of Africa’s best. If I get a chance to go back there, I will go back. 

KS: You left Greece recently and claimed that the club had failed to pay your salary.   How true is this?  Also is this the sole reason that caused you to leave?

PW: I moved to Greece and suffered a similar fate as was the case in South Africa. I came to play for the national team against Zambia and suffered a very serious injury.  God gave me the strength nonetheless and I had my contract back from Greece. When I went to apply for my visa to go back to Greece, the embassy had changed its systems because of the Syrian refugee issues. This complicated the visa application process, and things got tough for me. Recall, I was battling the injury issues, and now my documents were not right. While this was happening, I had missed up to 10 games for my club Kalloni. Nonetheless, Kalloni was neither a weak nor strong team, but due to my travel issues, they opted to sign other players in my place. I finally managed to go to Greece. I pushed myself hard, and thought that I was fit enough. I started a Greek Cup game, and few minutes in, I pulled a hamstring, and this forced me out for a month or so. I now missed almost 12 matches. I recovered though, and when I got back to the pitch, Greece had been hit by a serious economic crisis. I guess some clubs took advantage of this and myself and other players were not paid. We had an agreement with the club to sort out my dues but they did not honour their part of the bargain. This prompted my lawyer to take up the issue with FIFA.  Trust me I went through hell while there.You just can’t post your problems to prove you are suffering. I however, thank my friends who supported me during the tough time in Greece.

KS: You aren’t the first Kenyan player to lament about Greece…Is there anything that affects foreign players there?

PW: As I have already explained, Greek clubs don’t pay. For instance, my previous club Acharnaikos offered what I thought was a good deal that could help me grow and support my family. When I signed for them, most transfer windows had been shut and I had litle options. I hence trusted my agent when he brought the deal to the table. We were offered a deal together with Ismael Salim and we thought we could give our best there, since statistics count the most. But again it never was. We endured a torrid 5 months without salaries, and being foreigners, it just got worse. The only thing I got was money for food from my agent. I couldnt hold in there any longer. I left the club and declined to return. We had a serious push and pull with the club, but I could not return as the club had failed to honour its contractual obligations. I preffered to suffer with my family here, rather than staying abroad, suffering and also not being able to support my family here. It’s tpugh and we suffered so much while there.

KS: About two seasons back, you were close to making a move to Gor Mahia. How was it like?

PW: At one point when I had come back to Kenya, I decided to join Gor Mahia.I knew it was a  great move but it didn’t go through because of my ITC. I sincerely do not know what happened but was totally upset that I did not sign for them, since it would have been a perfect time to clear my mind, play well and settle with my daughter and family. After Gor Mahia fell through, I waited and talked with friends and agents to get a deal, Turkey came. It however, didn’t go through again because of many reasons which I can’t say here.

KS: Are you considering any return to the KPL?

PW: Yes.I was considering coming back to the KPL, I am still young and can still make a great move. You see in football, you  can’t just continue to satisfy people and  sacrifice because you need to be famous, or have people call your name yet you have nothing to show for it. As a player, you need to live and football is a short career.

KS: Discipline- Or lack of it. Is it still an issue in your career? If not, how did you overcome it?

PW: I don not know why  people always say that we(footballers) are ill disciplined. Is it bad for me to go out or to go catch a drink with my friends? For as long as I do my best and give my best in training and on the pitch, what is the big issue here?  My past and all my indiscipline issues have largely been a creation of the media, and this creates a negative perception. The media will write great stuff about you when you are doing well. A small flip and the negativity will flow. The fans will then  criticize and judge you very harshly.  Interestingly, some of the fans you meet out in social places will always praise you and even buy you a drink. However, when something negative comes up, the same people will be flooding the social media saying how you were drinking and doing all bad things. I never overcame anything, I am just grateful to all my previous coaches as they understood and supported me.  My daughter and getting mature helped me.

KS:  Where are we likely to see you next? Have you received any offers?

PW: I don’t know for now because I am a free agent. I am waiting for my agent to see what is coming through.

KS: Any closing words to your fans?

PW: I wish to  just thank each and every fan who has always been there for me, supported me, and wished me the best, because sometimes in life not everyone will love you or like u. As fans of Kenyan football we just need to support our own football and support our leaders. We need to try to make our game to be the best in Africa because we have talents and great players. We should stop accusing players and see the best in them and try to help and make them better. We players are human beings and to be in the spotlight is not easy. We face lots of temptations but we thank God as He always guides us. I urge everyone to support football and love this game.

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