The yet to be recorded history of local football will be completely incomplete without the mentioning of former United Stars Football Club goal ace, one Habasen Gurirab.
The stocky forward was the copybook of Orlando Pirates Football Club lethal striker Jordan “Jorries” Afrikaner, sharing a significant number of similarities though he was more skillful and cunning than his counterpart from the city of bright lights (Windhoek).
Habasen also shared similarities with Germany’s World cup winner Gerd Mueller. The quicksilver speedy forward was a menace to many goalkeepers who dreaded the sight of facing the slippery striker.
A traditional one-club loyalist, the Swakopmund-born lad could have easily walked blindfolded into any football team in the country’s topflight league, but loyalty denied him the ideal opportunity to rub shoulders with the big guns and showcase his amazing talent on the big stage.
We caught up with the devastating slippery forward as he relates his untold football journey step by step in full detail. Enjoy reading!!.
SWAKOPMUND – Born Reinhardt Habasen Gurirab in Namibia’s most attractive coastal holiday resort Swakopmund on the 7th of November 1966 – young Habasen was just like any young black boy in the neigbourhood – football crazy and would play football at any given time.
He was still a ‘pikinini’ barely out of his nappies when the likes of Hermann “Pele” Blaschke, Kaningandu Masilo, Ruben “Ruby” Kamulu, Alpheus Gaweseb and Issy Vezeperauina Kamara set the local football scene alight in the gold and black strip of exciting Mondesa outfit Atlanta Chiefs Football Club in the late sixties.
His genes dictated that he would be a great footballer following in the footsteps of elder brother the legendary Ben Gonteb.
He started playing competitive football with local club United Stars alongside the equally football crazy /Gaseb brothers Benjamin, aka Kleintjie “Springbok” and elder brother Otto.
And while elder brother Ben Gonteb was pulling strings in the middle of the park for the rejuvenated Kuisebmond side Eleven Arrows – young Habasen had no intention of living in the shadow of his more celebrated brother and was busy building his own reputation as a serial net buster in his hometown.
He also played for local club Blue Boys. Aged just 18, and barely out of his pair of shorts, the deadly stocky forward caught the eye of Tigers’ talent scouts who lured him to the city of bright lights and as they say, the rest is history.
He joined premiership giants Tigers Football Club in 1984 and formed a deadly combination with the equally dangerous Siegfried “Dale” Stephanus, Steve Haihambo, Issy Naruseb and Foresta Nicodemus in Ingwe’s firing line.
After one season in the blue and white strip of “Ingwe” – homesickness got the better of Habasen, obliging him to develop itchy feet.
He retreated to the Atlantic Ocean only to resurface at ambitious Kuisebmond outfit Eleven Arrows to be reunited with elder brother Ben Gonteb and was amongst the pairs of brothers made up of Sadike and Sparks Gottlieb, Sono and Safile Shivute donning the maroon and gold strip.
The fast as lightning net buster established himself as a deadly forward with the ambitious Kuisebmond outfit. After a few sparkling performances with Arrows, Habasen abandoned the ship and returned to boyhood team United Stars FC.
The troublesome pocket-sized goal poacher will be best remembered for tormenting the visiting Ramblers during the national playoffs for a place in the combined football league after Namibia gained her democracy in 1990.
The stocky forward’s amazing speed and never-say-die attitude left the Ramblers rearguard, manned by Andreas Bartch, Stakes Coetzee and Butzie Schultz breathless on a freezing night at the Swakopmund Football Club field.
However, the Juku Tjazuko and Joseph Martin-inspired Rammies ran out winners after coming from behind to despatch the hosts in a hotly contested clash of the titans where tempers flew freely.
In the meantime, Habasen was to be swallowed in the unavoidable merger between United Stars and Swakopmund Football Club (SFC).
Regarded by many football pundits as the greatest finisher of his generation, very few defenders could handle him on his day, notably when he teamed up with the striking trio of Shiya, Jakes and the late “Lolokie Gonteb”.
Inevitably, Habasen was deservedly installed as the preferred “poster boy” of the popular annual Christmas Cup in Swakopmund where he went on to win several silverware with the hosts.
Unfortunately, the lethal forward could not fulfil his real potential as he quit the game while still at the pinnacle of his promising football career.
(Laughs) “I became a father and wanted to be closer to my newly born children, I was not prepared to sacrifice my kids’ happiness and well-being at the expense of football. You must remember that there was no money in the game those years,” relates Habasen.
The father of three, a daughter and two sons, is happily married and believes the quality of local football has worrisomely stagnated.
“Eish! the game lacks genuine match winners and personalities with the required skill to lure spectators through the turnstiles. Modern strikers have adopted a nasty habit of trying to walk the ball into the net, they are just not clinical enough, shockingly cowardly shy to shoot from outside the penalty box.”