A dark cloud has befallen the close-knit community of Etoshapoort following the shocking departure of former Golden Bees Football Club serial net-buster Lesley Arnold Haraeb, famously known as ‘Tico-Tico’ or better still ‘Shower-Shower’ in football and social circles.
During his signature pre-match ritual dressing room songs, Haraeb would sing his lungs out as he led the choir with his powerful baritone voice.
A dominant strong midfield anchor with unbelievable stamina, jaw-dropping tactical flexibility and vision, the versatile Haraeb could play in any position and was always visible everywhere on the football pitch.
In today’s edition of your favourite weekly sports feature, Tales of the Legends, profiling our athletes, alive and posthumously, New Era Sport pays a dignified tribute to Haraeb as we delve into his immense contribution towards the overall development of the beautiful game in the great Kunene region.
Etoshapoort glamour football club Golden Bees will be well-remembered for their flawless, attractive brand of carpet football that captured the imagination of many football followers across the length and breadth of the Land of the Brave.
The club produced a decent number of highly-gifted footies in the shape of bulky midfield general Bantu Nangombe, lethal goal-poacher Andihe Haimbodi and versatile Rastafarian midfield conductor Gerhard Samani Kamerika, just to mention a few.
Following in the footsteps of the aforementioned greats was not going to be an easy assignment, but Haraeb was without an iota of doubt up to the task, and his name can be comfortably thrown into the same conversation with his more celebrated forebears.
Born on 3 March 1983, Haraeb played a pivotal role in steering Golden Bees to promotion to the country’s elite football league (NPL) in 2006.
He started his football career with youthful Ozondje outfit Young Cosmos in Omaruru, before relocating to Outjo to join forces with the exciting Etoshapoort giants Pubs Football Club.
Haraeb served the gold and green strip outfit with distinction for four consecutive seasons between 2000 and 2004, before jumping ship to resurface at arch-rivals Golden Bees, much to the chagrin of the Pubs’ diehards.
A no-nonsense commanding midfield general of note, his imposing presence in the middle of the park propelled Golden Bees to many victories in the hotly-contested knockout cup tournaments in the lower-tier division, including the Northern Stream league title, which culminated in promotion to the NPL in 2006.
Add the following accolades to spice up a remarkable football resume, and one can proudly conclude that it was indeed a journey well-travelled. Haraeb was a Hansa Pilsener Cup losing finalist, The Namibian Newspaper Youth Cup (runner-up Plate division - 2006) and NFA Cup semi-finalist in 2008.
A born leader on and off the pitch, Haraeb skippered the Kunene regional team at The Namibian Newspaper Cup on two separate occasions. He was also deservedly entrusted with the Golden Bees’ sacred captain’s armband between 2008 and 2012.
However, the likeable midfield kingpin developed itchy feet and abandoned Golden Bees’ sinking ship after the club found themselves back in familiar territory again, following their failure to avoid the dreaded relegation axe in 2008.
His next stop was further northeast as he joined ambitious Rundu outfit United Stars, campaigning in the top-tier league. Tellingly, it turned out that the old adage that home is always where the heart is played her hand again.
In 2012, the prodigal son returned home to find refuge at the Golden Bees nest, competing in the extended North-West division one league. Regrettably, despite his flawless display week in and week out, Haraeb never got a call-up to the national team set-up; be it at youth or senior level.
The closest he came was a starting berth in the Namibian Newspaper U/20 shadow team alongside former Golden Bees teammate and former Kaisames radio station sports anchor Ricardo Garoeb in 2004 and 2006, respectively.
However, he took solace from his well-deserved appointment as captain of the Omaruru Municipality football team at the Southern Africa Inter-Municipal Sport Association (SAIMSA) multi-sport games in Gaborone, Botswana in 2012.
Upon his retirement from playing competitive football, Haraeb finally got hitched in 2016 to his long-time sweetheart Rosaline, who bore him four children.
Unlike many of his peers who turned their back on the game after retirement, as a true club legend, Haraeb’s dedication, hard work and reliability never waned.
He continued to serve his beloved Golden Bees to the best of his ability, and was always ready to render his services and valuable expertise whenever the need arose, making considerable contributions to the club by fostering conducive relationships within the club structures.
On the Golden Bees WhatsApp group, former teammate Tomaya Nangombe and others described the departed Bees’ legend as the most loyal and complete footballer in the history of the game.
“It is a sad loss; we are saddened by your untimely departure. Tico-Tico was a legend among the supporters and those who closely followed his football career. Without a doubt, he won’t easily be replaced in his favourite position as a solid defensive midfielder,” reads one of the dozen messages of condolences on the club’s WhatsApp group.