Not many Ethiopians have graced Kenyan topflight “the Kenyan Premier League. In history, about three can be counted, and former Gor Mahia midfield wizard Zelalem Teshome is one of them.
Teshome passed on 11 December 2016 at the age of 49 in the United States of America and was buried back home in Ethiopia.
He was born in 1967 in the capital Addis Ababa around Lideta Maryam area.
His immense talent which was unearthed at a tender age by local coaches led him to his first senior career with the Ethiopian Premier League (EPL) outfit Ethiopian Electric and Power Authority (EEPA) under legendary coach Mengistu Worku.
He quickly worked his way into the senior national team the “Walia Ibex” as his star continued to shine.
It was during one of Walia’s outing to Kenya late 80’s for a friendly with the “Harambee Stars” when Zelalem first set foot in Kenya. After the warm-up, which was to mark Kenya’s independence celebration, a match they lost, he remained behind.
He then signed for Nakuru based Transcom FC, where he was given a local name “Michael Mohari.”
“He came to Nakuru Transom from around 1986 to late 1989 Nakuru and was given the name Michael Mohari so that he could play for Transcom as a local,” Fredrick Nyakiamo, a Kenyan soccer guru, who grew up in Nakuru then recounts.
Nyakiamo remembers vividly Teshome’s prowess on the field, “I was his fan as he wowed Nakuru crowds with his dribbling wizardry.”
In 1991 at the age of 24, Teshome was among four Transcom players who Gor Mahia player coach Austin Oduor “Makamu” signed. This was during the reign of visionary Gor chairman Leslie Okudo, others were, Joseph Asembo, Patrick Ouma and Francis Kasinde.
It was during this period when Teshome’s true identity was revealed, as Gor sought for him refugee status to evade paying Transcom transfer compensation.
He hit the ground running and was on the scoresheet in Gor’s 2-0 win over Rivatex in the 1991 “Standard Super Cup”, KPL’s curtain raiser then. George “Fundi” Onyango scored K’Ogalo’s other goal of the day.
Teshomes’s Gor Mahia sojourn ended in 1993 when he moved to Atlanta in the United States as a refugee. He would later facilitate Francis Kasinde to join him in the US.
While there he pursued a career in music, but his love for football remained. He captained Atlanta FC in the annual Ethiopian Soccer Association of Northern America (ESFNA) tournament on numerous ocassions.
According to ESFNA, Teshome was in Toronto in July 2016. He looked “awesome” and his rapid deterioration in health and ultimate departure was a shock to them. He leaves behind a daughter.
-Soka25east.com would like to send sincere condolences to his family friends, may his soul rest in peace.
-Soka25east.com would like to thank the following for contributing to this story, Ermias Berhane (Washington DC, USA), Timotios Baye (Singapore) and Fredrick Nyakiamo (Kenya).