Gatoch Panom to Anzhi – An Ethiopian Trailblazer


In moving to Russia, Gatoch Panom became the 45th player to move directly from an African club to Russia since 1998, and it’s the 4th time Anzhi have made such a move.

By Firew Asrat  (Russian Football News)

Earlier this summer, Anzhi Makhachkala made a surprise transfer when after a successful trial period, they signed Ethiopian international midfielder Gatoch Panom from Ethiopian Coffee in the nation’s top flight. In moving to Russia, Gatoch Panom became the 45th player to move directly from an African club to Russia since 1998, and it’s the 4th time Anzhi have made such a move. And while the transfer might not be huge news in Russia, it means a great deal to Ethiopia, a nation not famed for it’s footballing talent.

When you hear the word Ethiopia, the great runners of the East African nation might be the first thing that springs to your mind, long have they dominated the greatest races in the world, with names such as Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele becoming household at their peaks,  but if you look past running, you might be surprised to find the nation is in love with football. Ethiopians breathe football. From childhood, people play constantly on local village pitches, every Ethiopian is familiar with the touch of a ball made of clothes or plastic. But, the national team has always been unsuccessful on international and regional stage.

When you explore this football loving nation, you will find frustrated fans everywhere, disappointed as the national team racks up loss after loss, promising themselves “We won’t come back to the stadium again.” but when the next match rolls around, you will inevitably see full a stadium, with fans unable to turn their back on the sport which dominates their lives.

If Ethiopians are so passionate about football, why does the national team remain so unsuccessful, why have no players made the move to Europe? If your guess is a sheer lack of talent, you are wrong. Ethiopia have played in international tournaments since the late 1950’s and they won the African Cup of Nations in 1962, their crowning achievement. Since that generation, there is no doubt that Ethiopia have had great players in every department in every era.

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So why has Ethiopia not had successful footballers in the big leagues of Europe like other Africa nations? David Beshah was an Ethiopian-German football player. He played for the Ethiopian National team in 2011-12, before joining Ethiopian Coffee from the German lower leagues, where he played for two years until he sustained an injury which forced him to hang his boots up early and retire. At this point, he then opened an agency which aimed to send talented Ethiopian players to Europe. Gatoch Panom’s transfer to Anzhi is his first big success.

Speaking exclusively to RFN, David Beshah explained the reasons why Ethiopian players have struggled to break into the European big leagues.

Read the complete story at Russian Football News
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