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Olunga: Harambee Stars captain reveals he wanted to be a pilot before football

14:10 GMT+3 08/11/2022
Michael Olunga of Kenya v Ghana.
Kenya international Michael Olunga has revealed while growing up he wanted to become a pilot but ended up playing football.
  • Olunga started his career while in school at Liberty Academy
  • He won the Kenyan title with Gor Mahia before moving to Europe
  • Last season, he scored 24 goals in Qatar

WHAT HAPPENED? The 28-year-old lanky Harambee Stars striker is a household name in Kenyan football after he started from school and now plays for Qatar Stars League outfit Al Duhail SC.

Olunga began his career while still a student at Upper Hill High School with the Liberty Sports Academy in the Nairobi County League. He later signed for Tusker in the Kenyan Premier League, and ended up playing for Thika United and Gor Mahia where he won the league title.

At Gor Mahia, he was spotted by Swedish side IF Djurgarden and he eventually moved to Europe. He has so far played for Chinese side Guizhou Zhicheng, La Liga side Girona on loan and Japanese outfit Kashiwa Reysol.

WHAT DID OLUNGA SAY? “I wanted to be a pilot but here I’m in another institution. I started playing football when I was young, it was my passion,” Olunga told Nation Sports when asked what he could have done had he not played football.

“I always like telling fellow sportsmen that it is possible to pursue education while honing their talent. When there is an imbalance there could be a problem.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: While on loan at Girona, Olunga became the first Kenyan and Girona player to score a hat-trick in La Liga during a 6-0 victory against Las Palmas.

He then finished as the top scorer in the 2020 Japanese J1 League with 28 goals, winning the Golden Boot and the J-League 2020 MVP.

In doing so, he became the first African player to win the J-League MVP award. Last season in Qatar with Duhail, Olunga won the league's Golden Boot with 24 goals. In the current season, he already has five league goals to his name.

WHAT NEXT FOR OLUNGA? The striker is currently on holiday in Kenya as top leagues are taking a break to pave way for the 2022 Fifa World Cup that kicks off on November 20 in Qatar.