And Katongo has paid glowing tribute to soccer fans across the continent for recognsing and voting for him to win the award saying “I am humbled to be placed among the continent’s greatest players who have won this award before me”.
After weeks of waiting with bated breath, the fans trooped to the Shopping mall where the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) held a press briefing and allowed the BBC crew to confirm that the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) award winning captain and Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament had also scooped the BBC award.
The BBC crew had earlier also added suspense to the exciting news by conveniently withholding information about the venue of the crowning ceremony until late in the evening.
Katongo said winning the award would motivate him and the entire Chipolopolo Boys as they go to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in South Africa to defend the continental title.
while he couldn’t make it into the CAF African Player of the Year Award top five thanks to the bizarre voting criteria, the 30 year old China based player will however be consoled with this award which the Chipolopolo Soccer Fans Association (CSFA) have described as ‘morale booster.’
CSFA chairman Yotham Mwanza said katongo deserved to win because he had worked so hard to lead Zambia in achieving so much this year adding that winning the BBC award had also vindicated Katongo after being ommited from the CAF Africa Player of the Year race.
Katongo led Zambia to its first ever AFCON victory early this year in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and was in the race for the award against Didier Drgba, Demba Ba, Younes Belhanda and Yaya Toure.
He becomes the first Zambia and also the only player from Southern Africa to win the award while Drogba was the only nominee for the 2012 award who had previously won it.
Several fans praised the skipper for his leadership qualities both on and off the pitch and urged other players to emulate their captain who has worked so hard in the last ten years to achieve so much in one year.
“Katongo deserves the award. He is disciplined, hard working and focused and if only all our players could be like him, the African champions would be a tough team to beat” Mwanza said.
Katongo has worked tirelessly this year but few may realise that his desire to reap awards started a long time ago when he was at Buffaloes were he scored four goals in one game at the 2003 and 2004 editions of the Confederation Cup in 5-0 and 6-1 wins over Saint Michel of the Seychelles and DR Congo side DC Motema Pembe respectively.
However, unlike most of his Zambia teammates who rose from Under-17 and 20 levels, Katongo was a late bloomer and his path to Chipolopolo stardom began at Under-23 level.
He was part of the 2003 All-Africa Games team that finished fourth in Abuja, scoring just one goal at the tournament and another in the qualifiers.
Katongo made his Africa Cup debut in Egypt in 2006 where Zambia exited at the group stages, but not before scoring in Chipolopolo’s 1-0 win over South Africa.
A year later, he famously scored a hat-trick against South Africa in a 3-1 win in Cape Town to help Zambia secure qualification to the 2008 Nations Cup. taken by some of the MMD leaders such as Ms. Namugala and Dr. Chituwo is important in ensuring that issues that have rocked the party are dealt with extensively if MMD is to heal,” he said.