Djabir Mutarambirwa: ‘The biggest distress of my career’

Former SC Kiyovu assistant coach Djabir Mutarambirwa (C) is shown a red card after he was involved in a fight with APR forward Christophe Bukuru (on his left) during a league match at Kigali Stadium last season. / Courtesy.

The storied footballing journey of Djabil Mutarabirwa began back in 1999 when the attacking midfielder ran onto the field for his first time in the colors of his hometown club Etincelles in Rubavu District, of the Western Province.

At the peak of his career, Mutarambirwa was one of the best midfielders in Rwanda Premier League but he was often snubbed for the national team ‘Amavubi’ duties.


Despite his exceptional consistency at club level, he retired from international football a disgruntled man in 2012. “For reasons that I don’t know to this day, I was always overlooked and that troubled me a lot. I really deserved call-ups with the national team.”


“I do not understand how I didn’t impress the coaches, but not representing my country as I should have and worked hard for will always be the biggest distress of my playing career.”


From his early days at Etincelles, Mutarambirwa showed a unique mastery over the ball. The ease with which he picked his passes and dictated play was reflective of someone who had been in the game for many years than he had.

Besides at his parent club, Mutarambirwa’s impact also went beyond his set-piece abilities at APR, Atraco (now-defunct) and SC Kiyovu.

At club level, he won it all on domestic scene and in the region, having clinched two league titles and the 2007 Cecafa Kagame Cup with APR.

His last appearance for the national team came in 2007 during the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup held in Tanzania where Rwanda finished second after losing to Sudan 4-2 on penalties following a 2-all draw in the final.

Since hanging his boots in 2014, Mutarambirwa has been into coaching and was a member of the SC Kiyovu coaching staff from 2016 until his sacking along with head coach Emmanuel Ruremesha in June.

He also previously worked as assistant coach at Police.

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