Record-breaking striker speaks
Getaneh Kebede was born in Dilla town in southern Ethiopia. He is an Ethiopian footballer who plays for Ethiopian Premier League (EPL) club Dedebit Football Club and the Ethiopian National Team. He began his footballing career with Debub Police before he moved to Dedebit and was crowned the top scorer of the EPL. In 2013, Getaneh succeeded in passing trials with Bidvest Wits and signed a three-year contract with the team. In September 2016, he rejoined his old club Dedebit. Getaneh made his debut with the Ethiopian National Team in a FIFA World Cup qualifier against Somalia in November 2011. Back in the EPL, he became top scorer of all time with 25 goals in 30 games, and in the process breaking the record held by Electric player Yordanos Abay for the last 16 years with 24 goals. Dawit Tolesa of The Reporter sat down with him to discuss his current performance and future plans. Excerpts:
The Reporter: The 2016/17 EPL ended last week. How do you evaluate the season?
Getaneh Kebede: Well, it was very tight compared with previous seasons. All clubs were trying to win every match, especially home games. Even then top clubs were struggling to get three points at every match. But, still we can’t say that it was very tough because some clubs like Sidama Coffee and Dedebit had a chance to win the championship. However, the clubs didn’t succeed and they failed to win games towards the end of the season. Until the very end of the fixtures, it was not easy to identify those clubs that were to be relegated.
You have been playing for South African side Bidvest Wits and Pretoria University. How was your stay out there?
After four years with Dedebit FC, on July 19, 2013 I moved to South Africa for trials with Bidvets Wits and I later signed a three-year contract with the team. I played two years for the club and one year for Pretoria University. I had a great time out there as my debut with a foreign club, and it was a great experience for me. But since the coach was sacked from my first club, it was not easy to get attention like previously. There were also other clubs which I was planning to join. Unfortunately, I couldn’t succeed and I decided to return home.
How does Ethiopian football fare compared to South Africa’s?
I can say it’s totally different because you can’t predict a champion like in our league. In every season there are different rivals and they are capable of making money via sponsorship. They have their own doctors, full facilities and pitches to play and do training. They don’t only focus on staying on the league but also they strive to win the title. When it comes to our league, they only target to participate unlike advancing their team year to year to win the trophy.
What do you think is the main problem and what are the steps that should be taken to improve the Ethiopian league?
There are a lot of challenges in our leagues. For instance, most clubs don’t have their own pitches for training purposes and games as well. They lack facilities, structure and annual plan. They only focus on participating and staying on the league. It’s also difficult to play in the regions for security reasons.
There are arguments from various corners that players’ remuneration is not commensurate with the workload. What’s your take on that?
Actually, I think players are also to blame because they don’t consider playing football as their regular job. If we take players at the professional level elsewhere, they consider soccer as their regular job and they look forward to advancing their performance in every season. After attending a training session, they will go back to the gym to work on their fitness. I think that is the main weakness of our players. So, we have to take football as a regular job and I strongly believe we should have to work more and prepare ourselves for every game.
St. George won its 14th title and that happened for the fourth consecutive year. What do you think of their domination?
There is domination in professional leagues all over the world. We can take Italian football club Juventus and the two Spanish clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid. In every season, they are dominant due to their financial resources. Actually, our clubs have enough budgets to buy players, for example St. George. But before the league starts, psychologically players of the other clubs believe that the champions will be St. George. I think that is the main challenge for the clubs – lack of confidence. They are only in to participate and to stay in the league, not to win the trophy.
You scored 25 goals this season and broke a 16-year record. How does it feel?
It is really an honor to become top goal scorer on the league. There were a lot of chances to break the goal record. For instance, I had a chance in the 2012/13 EPL season. During that time, I scored 22 goals. But, I didn’t make it due to an injury. And also there were players who had a chance to break the record, like St. George captain Adane Girma (scored 23 goals in 2011/12 EPL season) and Tafesse Tesfaye of Ethiopia Coffee (scored 23 goals in 2008/2009 season). So, I think this season I was able to break the record because I played almost all matches of the season except one match against Fasil City. So the sum of all these efforts and hard work are the factors I believe that made me show outstanding performance during the season.
There are arguments two goals you scored against Wolaita Dicha were illegitimate, but were allowed to stand by the referee. Do you agree?
Of course there were some arguments in social media. But that is not true. Because this doesn’t work in football and I don’t want to associate my name with such kind of things.
It’s rumored that you’re in the process of joining the Portuguese league. Tell us about the process and your future plans?
Now I am playing with Dedebit and two months remain on the contract. I am dealing with some clubs to sign and they are asking me for trials. But we’re having issues on that. I do not agree to their demands that I go to Europe for trials, and have told them that they instead could have a look at video recordings of my playing with the South African club. So it’s an ongoing process.