Born in the vast populated coastal town of Namibe in southern Angola on September 2, 1971 – Armando Pedro started out in the youth academy of the town’s leading football club Sonagon Athletic Club.
By the age of 17 the slippery net-rattler graduated to the senior team where he became a regular starter. While in his native Angola, he befriended a PLAN fighter going by the name of Petra.
The two kept in touch after Namibia’s Independence. When Petra invited his Angolan buddy to come over for a visit, little did Armando know that it would be his first and final journey to the land of the Brave.
Pedro arrived in Oshakati in northern Namibia, aged 22, and as it turned out during one of his sight-seeing escapades around the then village, the Angolan found himself strolling past an open football field where young men were playing football.
“As I walked past the field, the ball came out of touch, landing on my path. Out of the blue, I started juggling the ball and much to my surprise, the coach – who happened to be Tobias Herman – invited me to join them at training sessions the following day,” Pedro recalls.
“It was quite difficult in the beginning, because I could hardly speak or understand any of the local languages, including Afrikaans and English. I stayed at Khumalo’s residence, a notable club administrator, who discouraged me from going back to Angola and that’s how I ended up playing for local club African United FC”.
His three-month stint with the Ongwediva outfit yielded immediate results as he almost single-handedly spearheaded United’s attack – propelling the club to a triple victory in local knockout tournaments.
In the meantime, Namibia Premier League giants, Okahandja-based Liverpool FC got wind of the Angolan’s football exploits. The ambitious club invited Pedro for trials on the recommendation of former Namibian football supremo, John Muinjo.
“I was staying at Oscar Mengo’s house in Windhoek and after a week Spikes Shipiki came to fetch me from Windhoek on the assumption that United needed me for an important tourney in Oshakati.
“We won the competition, but Spikes would not allow me to go back to Liverpool [FC]. He convinced me to rather join Blue Waters in Walvis Bay as he felt I would better off over there, and as they say, the rest is history.”
Upon his arrival at the coastal harbour town in 1993 Armando made an immediate impact in the blue and white stripes of the Birds, forming a telepathic partnership with beanpole striking partner Striker Muaine.
Unfortunately, his debut season coincided with the team’s poorest showing in as many years as the club fought a relegation battle for the better part of the season.
However, it was back to basics the following season with the rejuvenated Blue Waters claiming the coveted NFA Windhoek Lager Cup – disposing eternal rivals Tigers by three unanswered goals, courtesy of Pedro’s well taken brace complimented by Dokkies Theodor’s penalty kick.
Pedro was back in the thick of things steering the Birds to victory in the Metropolitan Cup final against Civics. The Angolan netted the winner in the 2-1 victory. This was followed by a league title triumph – paving the path for the seasiders to conquer Africa.
“Our first match was against Eleven Men in Flight from Swaziland, who beat us 2-1 in Mbabane, but we came out tops in the decisive second leg at the Kuisebmond Stadium, winning 3-1 in Walvis-Bay. I scored a brace to advance through 4-3 on aggregate.”
Next stop was his native land, where Angolan giants Primeiro de Agosto awaited the Namibians. The hosts won comfortably with 3-0 before drawing the 2nd leg 1-all in Walvis Bay.
Pedro played a pivotal role when the Munyanda Muaine-inspired Birds humiliated Katutura glamour football club African Stars in front of their home crowd.
The visitors easily waltzed past a hapless Stars in the final of the maiden edition of the now defunct BP Top-8 Cup, at the packed-to-rafters Independence Stadium in Windhoek in 1996 – dispatching the Reds 2-0 via Muaine’s powerful headed brace.
Pedro’s goal-scoring exploits did not go unnoticed, as South African Professional Soccer League (PSL) side Hellenic came knocking on the door. He signed a professional contract with the Cape Town outfit, where he was to lead the strike force alongside Gerald Stober and the late Grant Young.
After four seasons in the Mother City, he was transferred to fellow PSL campaigners African Wanderers in Durban where he stayed for one season. In 2005, Walvis Bay’s business mogul Hennie Dawids took Blue Waters under his wing and recalled the speedy striker – dangling a juicy carrot in his face.
“He (Dawids) tabled a very good project for the club and it came at a time when I was becoming homesick and desperately wanted to return after such a long time away from my adopted hometown.”
Dawids assembled the crème de la crème of Namibian footballers under the stewardship of well-travelled Zimbabwean and former Brave Warriors coach Sherperd Murape. The new-look Birds made a clean sweep, claiming back-to-back league titles, including victories in several knockout cup competitions.
In the end, it was not all a bed of roses, as Pedro suffered the agony of relegation, but the stocky built Angolan stayed put and contributed immensely to the club’s quick return to topflight football after just one season in the lower ranks.
He finally retired from competitive football in the 2012/2013 campaign in order to concentrate on business.