Ethiopian soccer legend Mengistu Worku passed away

Ethiopian soccer legend Mengistu Worku who helped Ethiopia win the 3rd African Cup has passed away.

Memorial service for him will be held on Friday in Addis Ababa at the St. Petros Church where he will be laid to rest.

The following is a brief biography of Mengistu Worku (Sources: Wikipedia, Facebook, Ethiopian Review archive).

Mengistu Worku was an Ethiopian footballer, recognized as one of the best football players in Ethiopia’s history.

He is most popularly known for scoring 2 goals in the final of the 3rd African cup against Egypt, when Ethiopia won their only major trophy to date by defeating Egypt 4-2.

Mengistu Worku with the Ethiopian national team that won the 3rd African Cup (1962). L. to R. standing: Luciano Vassalo (captain), Awad Mohammed, Tesfaye GebreMedhin, Berhe Goytom, Asmelash Berhe, Kiflom Araya, Gashe Tilahun (trainer); L. to R. sitting: Girma Zeleke, Gila-Michael T. Mariam, Italo Vassalo, Getachew Wolde, Mengistu Worku.

Mengistu finished as top scorer of that tournament with 3 goals. He debuted with Saint-George SA in 1957 and remained with the club for the entirety of his career.

Ethiopians in Europe honor heroes of the 3rd African Cup Mengistu Worku and Luciano Vassalo (Sweden, 2008)

Mengistu was given numerous offers to play professionally for teams in Italy and France, as well as Egypt’s El Zamalek, but like earlier legend and coach Ydnekatchew, he refused all offers and stayed in Ethiopia wearing Saint George’s characteristic “V” across his chest.

Mengistu Worku with former team mate and captain of the victorious 3rd African Cup Ethiopian national team Luciano Vassallo (1991)

Mengistu wore the number 8 for the entirety of his club and national team career. His international career began in 1958 and ended in 1970, following disappointment in the 7th African Nations cup in Sudan, where Ethiopia finished bottom of their group. He still managed to score 3 goals, the only Ethiopian goals in that tournament.

Mengistu played 2 more years with Saint George, retiring in 1972. He is the seventh-highest scorer in the history of the African Cup Of Nations with 10 goals.

Members of the Ethiopian National team celebrate their 3rd African Cup title

Mengistu coached the national team after retirement, but the team failed to match the success it found during his playing days. He did, however, coach the country to their first-ever CECAFA cup title in 1987, when the tournament was hosted by Ethiopia.

1960s Ethiopian national team arrives in Moscow. Mengistu Worku is on the right.

In 2001, Mengistu was struck by a tumor, and doctors had told him he had only months to live. With treatment unavailable in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian billionaire Mohammed Al Amoudi paid for Mengistu to travel to South Africa for treatment. “It was because of Al Amoudi that I am standing before you today,” he said on Ethiopian television.

The 1968 Ethiopian National team. First row, left to right: Abdulrahman "Pache", Haile Tesfa-Gabir, Girma Asmerom, Luciano Vassalo, Col. Tamrat Yigezu (President of Ethiopian Football Federation), Yidnekachew Tessema, Gashe Tilahun, Bereket Amde-Michael, Getachew Dula, Getachew Wolde, Adamu Alemu (assistant coach); Second row: Tesfaye Bahire (assistant coach), Mengistu Worku, Tekeda Alemu, Shewangizaw Agonafer, Getachew Gelashe, Hailu Abebe Woldegiorgis; 3rd row: AmdeMichael, Kiflom Araya, Yohannes Tiliku, Abraha Araya, Tesfaye Gebremedhin, Berhe Goytom; 4th row: Eshetu GebreHiwot, BekureTsion GebreHiwot, Fisseha WoldeAmanuel, Milosevic (head coach), Getachew Abdo; Last row: Nega WoldeSelassie

At the 2002 CECAFA Cup, Mengistu was honored before the tournament kickoff by the Council for East and Central Africa Football Association, along with five other east African footballers and three referees, including Tesfaye Gebreyesus, the Ethiopian who refereed at three ACN tournaments.