- Based in Norway, he is keen on coaching the national team, Harambee Stars
Capped 50 times by the Kenya, John ‘Mo’ Muiruri is arguably one of the best midfielders of his generation.
The 40-year-old moved to Europe in 2001 from Tusker and joined Belgian side KAA Gent where he spent four seasons before crossing over to Germinal Beerschot in July 2004. He then moved to Norway after a season, joining Moss FK, where he finally settled until he retired recently.
Muiruri now plans to transition into fulltime coaching. He is currently taking his coaching badges which will culminate in an elite coaching course in the Netherlands. He continues preparing for the big leap into professional coaching by training academy kids at Norwegian third-tier side Oppegard Club alongside another former Kenyan international, Bonaventure Maruti.
Before that, he was the head coach during the 2017-18 season but did not renew his contract as he opted to go for advanced coaching classes.
But just how did a boy who grew up in rural Nakuru get to the big stage in football at a time when the local game had little or absolutely no television coverage? Muiruri was lucky to join top-tier side Utalii in 1998 immediately after High School. From then, his career continued on an upward trajectory.
“Utalii was my first real club other than youth football. While at Kisii High School, we had a team to be proud of that had the likes of Simeon Mulama, Ramadhan Balala, Sunday Eyenga, Geoffrey Jambe, the late Godfrey Chibole and Abdul Akhonya, to mention but a few. In short, we had a great team and we prided ourselves in the fact that no one could beat us at our own turf, in the Premier League or whatever,” reveals Muiruri.
“Utalii came calling for a friendly at Kisii High School - we lost 1-0 but I had a good game. The team then lifted the league a month later. After my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams, I went to play for them in the East and Central Club Championship in Zanzibar.”
Muiruri needed no time to settle at Utalii and was called up to the national team after impressing in the East and Central Club Championship. He was the youngest player in the national team then. Muiruri kept his place and jersey number 10 for ten years consistently. Important to note, is that he played professionally in Kenya for just three years, won two league titles and was the runners-up Footballer of the Year twice before moving to Belgium in 2001 to join Gent.
“I moved to Europe rather unexpectedly. There was a Belgian businessman at the Coast who was following my progress mostly through national team games. He sent teammate Robert Mambo to me with promises of taking me to Europe. He requested for my details; passport number, birth details and all that. I gave them to Mambo to take with him to the Coast,” said Muiruri.
“In January 2001, we were playing Gabon at home and he had invited a scout from Gent to Mombasa for a holiday and they watched the game together on TV. Two days later, I was on a flight to Belgium for trials and was signed. I actually met that guy for the first time on the day I was traveling to Belgium!”