Martin Uri-Khob was a midfielder for leading Nomtsoub outfit Chief Santos Football Club, and was famously known by the nickname ‘Voete’ amongst his vast circle of friends and teammates.
Uri-Khob is widely-regarded as one of the greatest players in the rich history of Santos, and by some, the most exciting ball dribbler of all time.
Well-known for his close ball control and jaw-dropping dribbling ability, the young midfield general inspired many people to fall in love with the spherical object, notably when he was pulling the strings in the middle of the park for the exciting Nomtsoub outfit.
New Era Sport caught up with the now-retired shy midfielder, as he takes you, our esteemed reader, down memory lane on a football journey well-travelled.
Born Martin Uri-Khob in the northern copper town of Tsumeb on 17 May 1965, the bow-legged dribbling wizard was always destined for the bigger stage, given his unbelievable football virtuosity belying his tender age.
Like many youngsters his age at the time, football was the only recreational pastime in the neighbourhood. His genes dictated that he would be a footballer of note. After all, cousins Corrie and Lawrence Uri-Khob were formidable footballers in their own right, whilst younger cousins and nephews Marcellus, Gerros and Ricardo were also right up there to keep the family’s legacy intact.
The bow-legged midfield genius started playing competitive football at the age of 15 for Nomtsoub’s lower-tier outfit Aston Hotspurs, an unofficial feeder team of local giants Chief Santos.
Uri-Khob teamed up with his younger brother Andreas Mobs Reinecke, Jonas Subeb and Boaster Kapeng in the youthful outfit’s lineup. Aged 15, the midfield magician was elevated to Santos’ first team in 1980, laterally thrown into the lion’s den.
The young Uri-Khob found himself in the company of other gifted youngsters who were all shepherded by Freddy Guibeb, Conrad Safari Angula, and the equally dangerous Oggies Nanuseb. He was amongst other well-established superstars such as club legends Sagarias ‘Selle’ Auchumeb, Max Johnson, cousin Corrie Uri-Khob, Mannetjie Neidel, Absalom ‘Shakes’ Khomob, Pele Damaseb and other greats.
After some impressive performances in Santos’ engine room, the young attacking midfielder made the sacred number 10 jersey his personal property, mesmerising defenders with his amazing dribbling skills, reminiscent of club stalwart Atanasius ‘Steps’ Nickel.
An overwhelming fan favourite, the much-adored rookie playmaker was not only an exciting midfielder to watch, he also immensely contributed match-winning goals whenever he was called upon.
He played a pivotal role when Santos manufactured back-to-back league title wins in the 1982 and 1983 seasons, the same year the Copper Town lads saw off the mighty Orlando Pirates by a solitary goal in the final of the hotly-contested annual Easter Cup tournament.
Uri-Khob was the chief architect when Santos reached the final of the maiden edition of the then newly-introduced Chairman’s Cup at the SKW Stadium in Windhoek in 1985.
However, the midfield kingpin was unable to safe his team from biting the dust as Santos were sent packing by serial “party- poopers” Hungry Lions in an electrifying clash of the titans. They went down 1-0 via Justice Basson’s late strike.
Nonetheless, Santos were back in the thick of things when the Nomtsoub outfit reached another final in the same year. Once again, the Copper Town lads were made to play second fiddle when they were handsomely sent packing via a heavy 4-0 defeat against a rampant Ramblers at the old Katutura Stadium.
Nevertheless, he got some consolation when Santos won the Northern league title in the same year to earn their unavoidable promotion to the newly-formed breakaway league, the Namibia Super Soccer League (NSSL).
The new league initially got off the ground with just eight of the country’s leading teams in the following sequence: African Stars, Benfica, Black Africa, Blue Waters, Chelsea, Eleven Arrows, Orlando Pirates and Tigers. Santos was joined by the trident of Young Ones, Hungry Lions (both Windhoek), and Explorer Eleven (Walvis Bay) when the league was expanded to accommodate 12 teams.
Uri-Khob called it quits from playing competitive football at the fairly advanced age of 34. The well-spoken retired midfielder strongly feels he still has some unfinished business in the game that saw him cross the mighty Orange River into neighbouring South Africa for a series of friendly matches in Cape Town in 1986.
He still holds fond memories of his many battles on the football field, anxiously citing former Young Beauties, Orlando Pirates and Blue Waters’ hard-tackling central defender Salathiel ‘Stimela’ Ndjao as his toughest opponent during his wonderful football career. He points out Katutura giants African Stars as Santos’ hoodoo team.
“Eish...for some strange reasons, we always struggled to get out of first gear against Stars. They always got the better of us in many of our battles,” recalls a beaming Uri-Khob. He will definitely go down in history as a rare talent, and arguably one of the finest attacking midfielders of his generation.