Yidnekatchew Tessema

Ydnekatchew Tessema (Amharic: ይድነቃቸው ተሠማ; 11 September 1921 – 19 August 1987) was a footballer and pioneer of modern sports organizations in Ethiopia.

Yidnekatchew Tessema
Personal information
Full name Yidnekatchew Tessema Eshete
Date of birth (1921-09-11)11 September 1921
Place of birth Jimma, Ethiopia
Date of death 19 August 1987(1987-08-19) (aged 65)
Place of death Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Playing position Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1943-1958 Saint-George SA 365 (318)
National team
1947-1957 Ethiopia 15 (3)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Early life

Yidnekatchew was born in Jimma to father Negadras Tessema Eshete and mother Mulatwa Gebreselassie. Yidnekatchew's father was serving his fifth year of exile from the country for being the Minister of Telegraph and Posts of the deposed Iyasu V of Ethiopia.

This never really affected the relationship between Yidnekatchew and Emperor Haile Selassie,the two are seen in many shots where Yidnekatchew humbly accepted another trophy from the emperor. At age four, Yidnekatchew was sent to Teferi Mekonnen School, where he would receive most of his education. At school, the young Yidnekatchew played many sports but mastered football. At age 8 he was even made captain of his school team. In his teens, he also practiced cycling, short distance running and boxing, but he always seemed destined for football, which led him to being recruited by a member of the Arada FC (now Saint-George SA).

The young Yidnekatchew took French, English and Italian classes and was fluent in all those languages besides Amharic.


He is considered as one of the country's biggest sporting heroes. He played and coached Ethiopian clubs and teams and founded the modern Ethiopian Sports office at age 22. As a player he spent his entire career at Saint-George SA in Addis Ababa, joining the youth team in 1935 at age 14. Wearing the V across his chest he played 23 years straight with them including his youth years, a country record. Another record he holds is scoring 43 of 47 goals scored by his team in one competition season. When the Ethiopia national football team started playing international football in 1947, he was already 28 years old and the squad was vying for younger players, nevertheless he would get 15 caps to his name. His first cap was May 1, 1947 in a 5-0 victory over French Somaliland. His record for the country led him to coach the Ethiopia national football team, after his retirement as player for a glorious period, and in 1962, at age 41 when the African Cup of Nations was to be held in Ethiopia, he led them to their only championships in this respected tournament,beating Egypt 4-2 in the final. Ethiopian football was at its peak then, as Haile Selassie the emperor of Ethiopia awarded them the trophy.

He would lead many Ethiopian sports delegations, including Ethiopia's Olympic teams to Rome 1960, to Tokyo 1964 and to Mexico 1968. Summer Olympics. He was the leader of the struggle that expelled apartheid South Africa from African Football in 1960, from the Olympics in 1971 and from FIFA in 1976.

Controversy after death

In January 2006, 19 years after Yidnekatchew's death, Koraonline, the official football magazine of Egypt 2006 criticised Yidnekatchew of being a dictator in charge of African sport. The article stated: "Yidnekatchew Tessema was elected in Cameroon 1972, to rule African Football with an iron hand for 15 years." Further, on Egypt's 2006 official site, instead of Yidnekatchew, they recorded that a Serbian coach by the name of Milosevic was the winning coach for Ethiopia instead of Yidnekatchew.

However, in team photos and clippings from that tournament, there is no sight of any European or foreigner among the Ethiopian players, and Yidnekatchew (who appears in many of the clippings himself) wearing a medal from that tournament.


Yidnekatchew died 18 August 1987 at the age of 65 due to long term illness. Until his death, he was the President of the Confederation of African Football, President of the Union of African Sports Confederations, honorary President of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, Member of the Executive Committee of the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa and member of the International Olympic Committee. Africa saw him as an ambassador of Africa who took pride in athletic advancements made by the continent, and in March 1988, he was made Posthumous Honorary President of the African Football Confederation.[1]


  1. "Ethiopian of the Millennium - Nominees". Ethiopian Millennium. Retrieved 2010-03-23.

[http://www.ethiopiaobserver.com/tales-of-arada/ Tales of Arada an article by Yidenkachew Tessema

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