“There were football kings and stars. There was everybody. But there was only one Controller. No other name. He was the best”- What they say about Josephat “Controller” Murila.

By Hillary Mukasa

Josephat “Controller” Murila the
undisputed football giant
(Photo Courtesy)

Twahir Muhidin

“I played against him when I was Coaching Mombasa Wanderers in the Superleague now Kenya Premier League. I really admired him. He was my kind of player. He was not what you would expect from the players of that time who played in the sweeper position. Most of the players in that position were big, hard and intimidating. Murila was of a moderate height and not well built but compensated those characteristics with intelligence and good timing for all the soccer actions needed at any given moment. I was amazed at how high he could jump despite his average height. That time there were very good local and African strikers yet he stood tall. I kindly request AFC Leopards to do something worthwhile for him. He deserves it for the selfless great service he rendered to the leopards. AFC Leopards reached the heights they brag of now due to the classes of the late 70’s to early 90’s during the Murila, Masiga, Mulamba, Abbas and the rest of the greats”

Mike Kisaghi

“I watched him when I was still in high school before I became a mature player ready to play in the Superleague. He was a very calm and composed player with very high intelligence. He was not robust in his tackling like present defenders. He would skillfully win the ball from an attacking opponent without a lot of fuss and pass it to his fellow team mate like nothing had happened yet they were under attack. He never played this rough play (known as “kiatu”, like other defenders). He was a joy to watch for both AFC Leopards and Harambee Stars”

Sportsmanship par excellence: Josephat Murila (left) giving help
 to Hesborne Omollo the sharpest Gor Mahia striker of the 1980’s.
Omollo had sprained his foot
(Photo Courtesy –Kickoff)

Mickey “T9” Weche

“Josephat Murila was the perfect example of a role model to me. I learnt a lot of things from this extra ordinary defender such as defending with intelligence, calculated interceptions, great timing when tackling and so minimum fouls. I learnt the most from Murila. He never shouted at players. He was a great teacher”

James Nandwa

“He was called controller. He was the last man in the team. A cool player he was and super talented. He controlled the defense in the National team with Mahmoud “Kenya one” Abbas. He is indeed one of the best defenders that Kenya has ever had. He overlapped well and gave the team an advantage when attacking”

Josephat Murila (2nd from left) receives the season’s best player award from Kenya
 Football Federation Chairman Dan Owino as other officials of AFC Leopards look over.
(Photo Courtesy- Kickoff)

Tom “TT” Tera

“He was very composed and very cool. His anticipation was very high. I have never seen the qualities Murila possessed in the modern era defenders in the Country.  He went for the ball and was not erratic”

Richard Gitonga

“He was a very disciplined player. His focus was always on the ball and he communicated very well with Mahmoud Abbas. The two knew each other’s moves. Abbas knew when Murila was to flick the ball to him. They had their unique way of communicating and Abbas did most of the shouting. Something unique about them is the number of times Abbas called Murila. That is Murila, Murila, Murila. Murila knew what move to make after each call. Murila’s judgment on the ball was very precise. He never missed the ball. Some of Kenya’s best forwards like Sammy “Jogoo” Onyango confessed that they didn’t know how Murila got the ball from them. Even the opponents just loved Murila. He controlled the team, his ball control was perfect and he had precise passes. He was looked upon by the team in tough situations. His ball control with his head was just superb. HE WAS A CONTROLLER

Josephat Murila (left) and Jared Ingutia cover Mahmoud Abbas during
A Harambee Stars match
(Photo Courtesy-Kickoff)

Richard Otambo

“He is the best sweeper to have played on the Kenyan land. He was later succeeded in that position by players like Austin “Makamu” Oduor and Pitalis Owuor”

Roy Gachuhi (Journalist)

“The AFC Leopards and Harambee Stars center half was as fine a footballer as one could ever wish for. He had high speed for a defender, great skill on the ground and in the air, a cool temperament and an amiable personality. They called him the controller. I called him the man who never put a foot wrong. He was both”

Michael Ojay Otieno

“He was a controller. There was no other controller of the ball like him. Composed and never got a red card in his whole career apart from one yellow card. Bobby “six million dollar man” did for him the donkey work of tackling the attacking players while he got the loose balls. He was very confident”

The Mighty AFC Leopards team of the 1980’s. Josephat Murila squatting 2nd from left
(Photo Courtesy)

Fred Serenge

“Very calm, intelligent, sharp and fast. He is my elder brother. I don’t want to talk about his character as a person. But in brief he is very complicated and firm”

Festus Serenge

“I don’t remember him getting into the referees book. He was a role model, team player, simple and a down to earth person”

Professor Wycliffe Njororai

“He was a very skillful center back. He was always calm and collected even under extreme pressure. He gave confidence to his fellow team mates. No wonder he earned the nick name controller. Unfortunately he played for a relatively short time. I wonder why”

Ben Musuku

“Was a good player. Very cool player. We don’t have such players these days. Looking at his size, what he did for AFC Leopards and this country is great”

Aloice Otieno – Referee based in Nakuru

“Murila was a disciplined defender who received only one yellow card in 15 years. His influence on and off the pitch was so great that fellow players nicknamed him “The Attorney General”. He was a dedicated player whether teaming up with Bobby Ogolla in the National team or with John Arieno Papa in the heart of the AFC Leopards defense. He was passionate”

Harambee Stars meet President Daniel Arap Moi at State House, Nairobi. They had clinched the CECAFA East and Central African Senior Challenge Cup. Josephat Murila (Standing 7th from right) next to Bobby Ogolla.
(Photo Courtesy- Kickoff)

Ahenda -Journalist-Standard Newspaper

“Murila was a player and a half. Very cool character since the days he was in Njoro High School to the days he played for Abeingo, AFC Leopards and Harambee Stars. The Kenya Airways employee was one of the best defenders in East and Central Africa if not Africa. He is the undisputed best number 5 in the country and was in the class of Bobby Ogolla. He was a soft tackler and you could not snatch the ball from him”

Peter “Kass Kass” Kamau

“A very organized last man. A leader that was simple and very humble. He could also initiate moves from the backline since he had been a midfielder before turning into a defender.

With Josephat Murila at The University of Dodoma during the East Africa University
Games in 2018. He was the soccer Coach of USIU-Africa
(Photo Courtesy- Hillary Mukasa)


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