Q & A: Benjamin “Benyam” Kibebe of FC Luzern Switzerland

Benjamin ”Benyam” Kibebe is one of the few Ethiopian professionall soccer players in Europe. The Swedish-Ethiopian was born on August 13, 1987 in Addis Ababa. When Benjamin turned four, his family moved to Sweden, and it was there that he first started playing soccer in the youth league.

Following a ten-year career in Sweden , Norway and Denmark, the 6’2” central defender moved to his current club, FC Luzern in the Swiss Super League.

EthioSports.com would like to thank Benjamin for taking the time to respond to some of the questions sent by Ethiopian sports fans.


Name: Benjamin Kibebe

Nationality: Swedish

Born: 13.08.1981

Position: Central defender

Length: 187 cm

Weight: 83 kg

Clubs: AIK (1999-2004), Tromsö (2005-2006), Ã…lesund (2007-2008), FC Nordsjälland (2008-2010, Cup – Champion 2010), FC Luzern (2010- )

Sweden national team: 1-A team, 7-U21, 9- Youth team


Sweden (Allsvenskan)  Premier league      Cup       UEFA-cup

1999-2004                                       80                        20               8

Norway (Tippeligan)   Premier league      Cup       UEFA-cup

2005-2008                                      81                         15               8

Denmark (SAS-ligan)   Premier league       Cup      UEFA-cup

2008-2010                                      60                           4               4

Total: 280 competitive games!


From Ahmed Ali:

Have you seen Ethiopia in recent time?

Hi Ahmed, I haven’t been to Ethiopia since 2005, but I will go there soon and I am really looking forward to it.  

In what position do you play?

My position on the pitch is central defender, but I have also in my younger days played offensive midfielder.

Something about your biography…

Something about my biography, hmm? I moved to Sweden with my family at a young age and it was in Sweden my interest in football / soccer began. I started to play for a local club where I grew up and at the age of 14-15 I started playing for the biggest youth club in Sweden. It was here I started taking soccer seriously. When I was young I was not one of the better players, but I always worked hard and was ambitious, and I had a mother and father that supported me no matter what, and made my dream of becoming a professional soccer player true. So I am where I am thanks to my parents.

For which national team did you want play, Ethiopia or Sweden?

Growing up in Sweden playing for the national team was always a dream. Which I was fortunate to do, but if I could, I would love to help Ethiopian soccer one day… Who knows what happens in the futureJ

Who is your childhood hero?

Oh, I had many heroes when I was young. Mostly it was players I could relate to, “black professional players” like Ruud Gullit, Frank Reijkard, Pele and so on.


From: Bizuayehu Wagaw (Inter Sport Newspaper Journalist), Addis Ababa , Esayas Alemayehu , Asche and Ahd

Hi Benjamin (Binyam) I am glad to see a player with Ethiopian blood playing in a professional league. My Question is will you consider to play for Ethiopian National team if the coach calls you? Thanks in advance.

Hi Bizuayehu, Aradaw, Kuas, Asayhgne, Hanna, Kidus, Hiwot, DD, Desta.

I have already represented Sweden’s first national team once and played many U-21 games, so I am not able to play for any other national team. But I would love to one day help Ethiopian soccer, if not as player, maybe as a consultant or something. I have played professionally in four different countries, for over 11 years now and with good guidance Ethiopia can become more successful in soccer.

I believe soccer when it is well organized can be a platform that helps a lot of young people to come out to Europe and have a chance to make a better life for themselves, their families and the national team. I think there is a lot of potential in Ethiopia. I see no reason why so many western Africa countries can be successful and have professional players all over the world and not Ethiopia.


From: Abzi

First of all I’ll like to wish good luck with your season!

Hi Abzi, DD,

Thanks for your good luck wishes.

My first question is have you ever came up against any Ethiopian footballer in professional career (since there are a lot of Ethiopians in Scandinavia)?

I have unfortunately not met any Ethiopian football players in my professional career as a senior. But I have met Ethiopian players when I was a youth player.

Do you ever regret playing for the Swedish national team because it prevented you from playing for Ethiopia?

No, I don’t regret playing for the Swedish national team because it was a big moment for me and also a very big platform for me that gave me many opportunities in the football world.

My last question is have you ever tried to motivate any young Ethiopian footballers to choose playing for Ethiopia rather their adopted European countries? And if you have not, will you do it?

Because I didn’t meet lot Ethiopian football players, I haven’t had the discussion about whether or not to play for the Ethiopian national team. But I personally think that there is a lot to develop in Ethiopian soccer, and Ethiopian national team before a player can choose Ethiopia national team before a bigger soccer nation, if he has that opportunity.


From: Dereje

How do you feel that being almost the only Ethiopian professional football player in Europe and it’s not easy too?

Hi Dereje,

Football in general is a tough business, whether you are Ethiopian or from another nationality. But of course, when you are a foreigner you always have to work hard and make sure you are much better than your competition. Nobody will give you anything for free in football, as I am sure in many other businesses. But with hard work, you will always get rewarded in the end, weather you know it or not…


From: Gezachew Asfa

Hi Ben, I would like to first say you are a great player. I have seen some of your games on youtube. If I remember correctly I think you are the captain and that says a lot about your leadership qualities on and off the playing field. As an Ethiopian I’m so proud of your work and hope to one day (soon) see you in the bigger European leagues … Spain, Germany or England.

Hi Asfa, Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I agree with you, I also think there is a lot potential in Ethiopia and the youth there. I think with the right guidance and organisation we could be just as successful as the western Africa, countries to export players abroad.

Back to Ethiopian Football, any chance you could help some of our players get a trial with your team, you could send someone to Ethiopia and watch some of the big games. Some of the boys are really good; with a bit of help they can make that step. All they need is to be able to play in an environment where they can learn and develop their skills week in week out. If we can get one or two boys then you would have done great job… I know it is a big task but remember there is no harm in trying.

I wish you all the best and hope to see watch more of your games… perhaps live, you never know…

Right now I am busy with my own career but after my career, it could for sure be a possibility for me. I would love to be able to help Ethiopians. We’ll see what the future brings.


From: Girum

First of all, I am very happy to see an Addis-boy making it in the wild wide world of football. How often do you come to Ethiopia?

Hi Girum,

Last time I was in Addis was 2005, I haven’t been able to go so often, but I will go back soon again and I am looking forward to it.

And do you watch the football matches there? I wish you all the best.

No, I haven’t seen so many games, I saw one game when I was there last time in 2005, It was a fun experience.


From: Anwar Negash

Thank you for having u.  You are very good and physically strong.

I’ve been watching our national team for the past 27-28yrs. I remember when the team was defeated by Nigeria 3-0 in Libya Nation Cup tournament. The 3 goals were scored either ball from corner or long cross shot + heading into net. By the time I discovered that our team would not survive most of African teams with the same strategy that it had. However, after 28 yrs they are playing the same way as that day. What the hell is this? Our team lost against Guinea 4-1 not b/c they played. They were running as chicken run inside the garden.

I am not coach I am not footballer but I know among other the main problem of our team is their physical fitness.  They are physically very weak. Why other people, coach and media etc should not focus on this issue? Kuas yeminwed sewchi n eco Aqatelew chresun.

What do you tell our coaches, the football people back home, media so that the main focus should be on physical rather technical or other stuff? Please do some campaigns. You may do something substantial.  I would say to you that I don’t encourage you to play for the national team (our country) with its current status even if you could do that.

Do you have any plan to play in UK or Spain?

Hi Anwar,

I understand your point, and I agree with you that the physical part in today’s football is very important. Without this it will be very difficult to compete. I don’t personally know all the problems in Ethiopian soccer but I can imagine there could be one or two things that could be improved. But lets stay positive and hope that things will change to the better and one day we will see a great Ethiopian national team that has great success in the African nations cup and who knows, maybe one day also qualify to the big world cup.