JACQUES Tuyisenge is one renowned footballer of this generation. The striker is celebrated locally, but also regionally – particularly in Kenya where his career experienced a resurgence with extraordinary goal-scoring exploits.
Since leaving the Rwanda Premier League for Kenya in in February 2016, the 28-year-old has registered a number of accomplishments to his name, among which he stands written in Gor Mahia’s history books as the leading foreign goal scorer of all time at the club.
Tuyisenge’s story is a glowing example for many budding footballers.
This week, the Rwanda international spoke to Times Sport’s Damas Sikubwabo in an exclusive interview about his life, footballing career, breaking records in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) and his short stint in Angola among other experiences.
Football has always been part of me’
Born on September 22, 1991 in Rubavu District of the Western Province, Tuyisenge says that his relationship with football dates way back as a kid growing up in his neighborhood in Gisenyi. He insists that he never tried any other sport in his life and has no regret whatsoever.
Jacques Tuyisenge (R) receives the 2015 Peace Cup trophy from former Inspector General of Police Emmanuel Gasana after Police edged Rayon 1-0 in the final at Amahoro Stadium. File.
“For me it has always been football all my life. Everywhere I have been, most people know me from football. I have never tried anything different,” he recalls.
Tuyisenge started his footballing journey from a local academy run by instructor Vigoureux Mungo in Rubavu. According to those who know him from the academy days, he was an undeniable talent and behaved extremely mature for his age.
In 2004, he joined Etincelles junior team where he played for three years before earning promotion to the club’s first team.
Debut and rise in local league
Tuyisenge made his debut in the Rwanda Premier League, with Etincelles, at the age of 16, and would play in the domestic top tier for eight years – with three different teams – before he was signed by Kenyan giants Gor Mahia in February 2016.
The celebrated forward featured for Etincelles first team for three seasons, bringing his combined spell at the club to six years, before SC Kiyovu came knocking.
Jacques Tuyisenge celebrates after scoring against Seychelles during the preliminary round of the qualifiers for the 2022 Qatar World Cup at Kigali Stadium in September 2019. File.
“There is a special for Etincelles in my heart. I enjoyed my six years there, and I am always grateful for everybody at the club who helped me to realise my dream.”
He joined Kiyovu in 2010. However, after just one year at the Mumena-based side, Tuyisenge was a megastar for Kiyovu to afford. Police secured his signature after outbidding many clubs in the race to sign for the blistering forward at the start of the 2011/12 season.
Joining Police, arguably the second best club in domestic football at the time, marked a new beginning for Tuyisenge and he has never back since that summer. He ranks highly among the club’s greats.
He is best remembered for captained the law enforcers’ side to the 2015 Peace Cup – the first and only major silverware the club has ever won after nearly two decades since its establishment.
Jacques Tuyisenge scored over 50 goals in all competitions during his four seasons with Kenyan powerhouse Gor Mahia. Net photo.
After four-and-a-half years, in February 2016, it was time for Tuyisenge to change club again and, this time, Kenya’s Gor Mahia would be his next destination.
Life and success in Kenya
Gor Mahia, one of the most successful football clubs in the region, signed Tuyisenge at a reported Rwf30 million fee. During his four seasons there, he was by far the club’s best player.
He scored over 50 goals in all competitions and was the club’s top-scorer in three of his four campaigns with the record 18-time Kenyan champions.
In his own words: “I had the best days of my club football (so far) at Gor Mahia.”
Tuyisenge, who was nominated for the 2016 Player of the Year in Kenya, played a vital role as Gor reached the quarter-finals of the 2018/19 Caf Confederation Cup – the second biggest club tournament in Africa.
Short stint in Angola
In July 2019, Tuyisenge who was sought after by many clubs on the continent, moved to Petro Atletico, in Angola, on a two-year deal for a sign-on fee in the region of USD150,000.
Unlike in Kenya, Tuyisenge did not manage to quickly make a mark in Angola’s topflight league before it was suspended in March and later declared null and void due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last month, he announced his departure from Petro Atletico on mutual consent with the club and has since returned to Rwanda. It is reported that he is closing in on a deal with champions APR.
Since 2007, Tuyisenge has featured for national teams of different age brackets and, today, he is elegantly serving the country in the senior team Amavubi as the assistant captain.
Between 2007 and 2008, he featured in the Amavubi U-17 starlets, from 2009 until 2011, he played in the Junior U-20 team. He made his senior international debut in late 2010.
The 2011 African Nations Championship (CHAN) was Tuyisenge’s first major international competition. Rwanda bowed out of the tournament from the group stage in Sudan.
Five years later, he was the skipper of a predominantly youth Amavubi side that reached the quarter-finals of the 2016 CHAN finals tournament held in Rwanda.
After a decade with the senior national team, Tuyisenge has received 41 caps and scored 14 goals.
‘Best moment of my career’
Tuyisenge made history in 2017 when he became the first Rwandan to score against an English Premier League side as his Kenyan side Gor Mahia lost 1-2 to Everton in a pre-season friendly match at the National Stadium in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
“This was a dreamlike moment. Playing against Everton and players like [Wayne] Rooney was unbelievable for all Gor Mahia players, especially to me who was even lucky enough to score.”Follow https://twitter.com/NkotanyiDamas