NAIROBI, Kenya- English Football League Championship side, Hull City FC bade an emotional farewell to Kenya after the last contingent departed on Wednesday morning following their historic maiden tour to the country.
The Tigers touched the hearts and minds of millions in a trip of many firsts that climaxed on Sunday when they played SportPesa Premier League champions, Gor Mahia FC in front of more than 60,000 fans at the Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani.
In a country that worships the top division English Premier League giants such as Manchester United FC, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC, Arsenal FC and recently, Tottenham Hotspur FC and Manchester City FC, Hull managed to spark football hysteria of a scale never witnessed in the country in over two decades.
“We are a small club from north of England and to see the kind of reception we got here is nothing short of amazing. We will never forget Kenya and we leave here inspired to fight for promotion to the Premier League next season.
“This trip has been nothing short of amazing. From the welcome we received and being able to fill the stadium for the game, it’s all been incredible.
“I just want to thank everyone who was involved and the Kenyans as a whole for this fantastic stay we’ve had here. I’m looking forward to many more initiatives like this in the future,” head coach Nigel Adkins told SportPesa News at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Wednesday morning.
“Asante (thank you) Kenya, we would love to be back,” Matt Bennett, the Hull player’s liaison remarked, no doubt echoing the feelings of the entire team- especially the young Tigers-who were spellbound and left with undying memories from their Kenyan trip.
Hull edged Gor 4-3 on post-match penalties in a game that brought out the biggest crowd at Kasarani since January 1997 and the attendance shot straight to the top 10 of the numbers who have attended a Tigers game in their 114 year history.
It competes with other titanic contests against United at Old Trafford in the Premier League and their 2008 Championship play-off final at Wembley where club legend, Dean Windass, scored the famous strike that fired Hull to the top division for the first time since they were established in 1904.
Their trip also included visits to Kibera and Kawangware for community service purposes where local football teams were fortunate to receive equipment from the Championship side through the Kits For Africa campaign.
The Hull team and delegation also had the chance to visit the Nairobi National Park on Monday where they appreciated the wildlife that is found right within the city centre.
“I’ve been to Kenya before and seen what this beautiful country has to offer but it was a whole new feeling getting to experience it all with my colleagues and the team. This has been a fantastic experience and I’m sure I speak for everybody when I say we have enjoyed every bit of the trip,” Hull Partnerships Executive Andrew Stead offered.
Part of the advance team who arrived in the country last Tuesday left for England last night (Tuesday), accompanied by Will Keane, the former Manchester United striker, while the rest of the players and head coach departed on Wednesday.
“Throughout my playing career this is definitely one of the highlights of it all. I have to leave now because I have family commitments but Kenya is definitely somewhere that I must come back to and I’m grateful to everyone who made this trip possible,” Keane stated.
The remaining members of the Hull City FC advance team will leave the country on Wednesday night to finally go and enjoy their post-season holiday after a very successful trip to Kenya.
“It’s been an amazing experience to say the least. The hospitality has been incredible and I’m happy that the players got the chance to play in front of such a massive crowd, it’s important for their careers,” Club Ambassador Windass underlined.