What you need to know:
- From his former coaches, fellow players, to administrators, all spoke in reverence of the man whose efforts on the pitch were never questioned
- It has been argued that Ugandan legend Ibrahim Sekagya is the reason Wasswa never became a mainstay at the heart of Cranes defence
- Former Cranes captain Denis Onyango said he considered Wasswa not only as a valuable asset to the national team but as an enjoyable presence as well
- Sredojevic and Wasswa went great heights together as they helped Uganda end a nearly four-decade absence from the Nations Cup finals with Gabon 2017 appearance
Hassan Mawanda Wasswa’s name has been associated with unrelenting resilience, willpower too strong to give up or in, and an attractive arrogance to disprove doubters.
And as the sun surrendered to the night last Friday, the son of KCCA legend, Biruma called time on his 13 years of dedicated service to Uganda Cranes; the tributes that followed were testament.
From his former coaches, fellow players, to administrators, all spoke in reverence of the man whose efforts on the pitch were never questioned.
It has been argued that Ugandan legend Ibrahim Sekagya is the reason Wasswa never became a mainstay at the heart of Cranes defence.
Wasswa, 33, started out as a solid defender, but Sekagya was too good for the then youngster to claim his place.
This saw Wasswa’s coaches reward his versatility with a midfield role. That way, both got to play together, cry together, and celebrate together.
“It was an honour to work with you as a teammate who was committed to success,” Sekagya posted on Wasswa’s retirement statement on Facebook.
“Thank you for your 13 years of committed service. You deserve nothing, but the best!”
Former Cranes captain Denis Onyango said he considered Wasswa not only as a valuable asset to the national team but as an enjoyable presence as well.
“While you’ll be missed by all of us, you certainly deserve to bow out with honour,” Onyango posted on his social media pages. “Your hard work and diligence have greatly benefited the Cranes over the 13 years, and I hope that the remaining and upcoming youngsters in the National Team setup will strive to follow your stellar example.”
In his decade-plus years of national service, Wasswa has worked with a number of coaches – László Csaba, Bobby Williamson, Micho Sredojevic, Sebastien Desabre and Johnny McKinstry, each impacting him in different ways.
Sredojevic and Wasswa went great heights together as they helped Uganda end a nearly four-decade absence from the Nations Cup finals with Gabon 2017 appearance.
“(I’m) wholeheartedly honoured, privileged and blessed to coach a Ugandan special commando, football forces soldier, Hassan Wasswa, aka Big Hass,” tweeted Micho, now Zambia coach.
“While you are hanging your boots, as a practical witness, I respectfully appreciate each moment of your sacrifice for that holy jersey. Webale nyo Ssebo,” he signed off in Luganda, a local dialect.
Sebastien Desabre is the other coach Wasswa made the next Afcon finals appearance with, this at Egypt 2019, which was also to be his final one.
“An example in everything,” Desabre, who guided Uganda to the last 16 of the expanded 24-team Afcon, tweeted on Wasswa.
“Loyal, educated, responsible and hardworking - skills that can be used at another level in Ugandan football. Good luck captain Hassan.”
Wasswa’s last game for the Cranes was a friendly against Ethiopia in November 2019. It was also his first and last time to play for current Cranes coach, McKinstry, although he was an unused substitute for the Afcon 2021 home qualifier against Malawi.
“A career of great quality, dedication and service to the Uganda Cranes comes to an end,” said McKinstry.
“Hassan Wasswa has been and will continue to remain a great example to future generations of what it takes to excel in the red shirt of Uganda. Good luck Hassan in the next chapter.”
Other former teammates like forward Emmanuel Okwi said “it was always an honour to share the pitch” with Wasswa.
“You were a true soldier and fighter,” added Okwi, “your spirit was always unmatched. You gave everything once you got on the pitch. Thanks for everything, brother!”
Wasswa’s fan and pundit Aldrine Nsubuga said the player’s “football arrogance bordered on impudence. He walked, played and talked on the pitch like he was the greatest thing to have happened in the history of sport.”
Perhaps Moses Magogo had to save the best for last, the Fufa president wrapping up his tribute by declaring a testimonial for the man.
“Thirteen years with 75 caps at the senior level has earned Hassan Wasswa a testimonial match organised by Fufa at an appropriate time,” declared Magogo.
“He will determine the line-ups and what the collections of the match will be used in accordance to his decision.”
Magogo added: “Whenever he (Wasswa) stepped on the pitch for training or friendly or competitive match, he is one of the few players who always gave 200 percent. He really hated to lose.
“If I am to choose, Afcon 2017 finals in Gabon, Hassan was at the peak of his trade. For me, it was great performance and great tournament for him.”
A former student from Makerere University Business School (Mubs), Wasswa wants to play on club football for one or two more seasons before retiring fully into administration.
Name: Hassan Wasswa Mawanda
Played locally for KCCA 2006-2007 & 2012-2013, and SC Villa 2014-15
2007-08: Ethiopian Premier League title with St George
2009-10: TFF First League title with Karabükspor (Turkey)
2007-2008: Saint George (Ethiopia)
2008-2009: Cape Town (S. Africa)
2010-2011: Altay* 2011-2012: Kayseri* (*all in Turkey)
2013-2014: Đồng Nai (Vietnam)
2015-2016: Al-Shorta (Iraq)
2016-2017: Al-Nejmeh (Lebanon)
2017-2018: El Gaish (Egypt)
2019: Jeddah SaudiArabia
This article first appeared on the Daily Monitor of Uganda.