Legendary Ethiopian Soccer player Engdawork Tariku “Sebeta” passed away at 64

The Ethiopian National Football Team in early 1970s. Standing first left to right: Kassahun Teka (St. George), Ismael Mohammed (Asmara), Yemane Yosef (Asmara), the late Jemil Hassen (Tele Asmara), Alemayehu HaileSelassie “Figna” (St. George) and Engdawork Tariku “Sebeta’ (St. George).from right to left). Seated form Left to right: the late Getachew Abdo (St. George), Tesfa Giorgis Bede-Mariam (Asmara), Geremew Zergaw (Ethiopian Airlines), the late Getachew Abebe “Dula” (St. George) and the late Ketsela Kebede (St. George).

Washington D.C.(USA) – Long time St. George FC and Ethiopian National Team legendary soccer player  Engdawork Tariku “Sebeta” passed away a week ago here at the age of 64 following a long battle with cancer.

Sebeta was born in 1945 in Sebeta, a small town outside Addis Ababa. He joined his first club, Anbessa FC, an Addis Ababa-based second division team, at the age of 17.

Although Anbessa gave him his first taste of club football, it was after he joined St. George, Ethiopia’s most successful club, that he won several league championships and major tournament trophies.

After St. George was dissolved during the Derg regime, Sebeta played for Wedefit and Chimad, a trucking company soccer club.

He was first called for the Ethiopian national team in a friendly match with Israel in 1969 at the age of 23 and he went on to represent the Ethiopian color for the next 9 years.

Sebeta scored 13 goals for the Ethiopian national team in his first 23 games.

Unorthodox Player

Sebeta’s amazing physical condition coupled with his unorthodox style of play helped him score some of the most memorable, amazing and even funnier goals ever seen in Ethiopian soccer.

Although he was not a technically gifted player as some of the Ethiopian players of the time, he was by far the fittest (maybe on par with the late Tesfaye Seyoum “Wollo”. Defenders had a hard time containing him and his favorite play was a surge on the right and left flank and then blasting a left or right foot missile shot.

The late Engedawork Tariku “Sebeta”

Memorable Matches

There were so many incredible moments in Sebeta’s soccer career but perhaps the most memorable ones include his 5 goals spree against Berari Kokeb, his double against the Eritrean selection team, which earned him the nickname “Jair” after the 1970 Brazil World Cup superstar, and his performance for St. George against Asmara FC in a thrilling 5-5 tie in Asmara.

One would expect anything to happen when Sebeta was on the field. One minute, he will miss the easiest chance one can imagine, and then he will score goals a few minutes later from an impossible angle. A good example was his performance during a World Cup preliminary match against Tanzania in Addis where he failed to take advantage of the 5-6 easy scoring opportunities that the legendary Luciano Vassalo provided him.

Sebeta, the Man

Sebeta was a wonderful and courteous person. He was a real gentleman and a very respectful human being.

Sebeta was well known in the soccer community at home and abroad and he was an ESFNA Guest of Honor in 2003.

EthioSports would like to send its condolences to his family. May the Good Lord rest his soul!

Sebeta will surely be missed.