Gone Too Soon Football personalities whose deaths shocked Ghanaians

In the wake of the Wednesday demise of the beloved sports journalist Christopher Opoku, Pulse Sports presents a list six other football personalities whose death were either untimely or took Ghanaians by surprise.

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Baba Yara

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The ‘King of Wingers as he was nicknamed brought much joy to many fans in Ghana during his playing days in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. He is undoubtedly the finest right winger Ghana has ever produced, praised by his contemporaries as Ghana's answer to the great Stanley Matthews. Yara was a tormentor in chief during his heydays with Asante Kotoko, Real Republicans and the Black Stars of Ghana.

However, in 1963, he suffered severe injuries after being involved in an accident while on a bus with the Real Republicans team for a league game.

Suffering paralysis, Baba Yara would remain in the wheel chair until his death on May 5, 1969.

As a national hero who possessed both charisma and talent, he was mourned nationwide

It didn’t come as a surprise when many years later, the Kumasi Sports Stadium was named after him in remembrance of the great contribution he made to football in the country.

Shamo Quaye

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The former Hearts of Oak attacker left an indelible mark in the minds of all football persons. He was a delight to watch and a major source of goals. Those were the days, footballs fans trooped to the stadium specifically to watch a certain Shamo Quaye play.

He was a cult hero for the Phobians. Shamo and Joe Debrah (Asante Kotoko marksman in the 1990’s) were the two big names on the local scene and those two footballers intensified the rivalry between Asante Kotoko and Accra Hearts of Oak,

Quaye’s performances would secure him an attractive contract with Swedish side Umea, but football fans would not see plenty of him afterwards, because his enviable career was cut short by a sudden and untimely death in 1998.

His death came as a rude shock to the Ghanaian football fraternity. It took several people months to believe, after they had set their eyes on his dead body.

His name still remains on the lips of all lovers of the game and is still idolized by the Phobians.

Sam Arday

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Nicknamed the 'multi system man', Arday was one of Ghana’s finest brains in coaching. He was the first indigenous coach to win Ghana a medal in inter-continental football: He guided the Black Meteors to win bronze in the 1992 Olympics, making Ghana the first African side place on the podium in Olympic football.

He would later help the Black Starlets clinch the 1995 FIFA U-17 World Cup title.

He was the technical brain behind West African Football Academy (WAFA - formerly Feyenoord Academy) and his experience was tapped by several young coaches in Ghana.

An inspiration to many, he passed away on February 12, 2017 after a short illness.

His death surprised many Ghanaians because he wasn’t bed ridden for long and indeed appeared fit a few days before he passed away.

He was given a state burial at the State House.

Bartholomew Opoku

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Bartholomew Opoku died after collapsing on the pitch during a league game between Kessben FC (now Medeama SC) and Liberty Professionals.

He was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment but died the next day, which was 8th March, 2010.

It turned the nation upside down and the Ghana Football Association and clubs began to intensify precautionary measures to ensure the safety of footballers on the field.

Alhaji Sly Tetteh

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He played for Sekondi Hasaacas and years later founded Liberty Professionals - the club that is credited for nurturing great football talents like Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, John Paintsil, Asamoah Gyan, Derek Boateng, Addoquaye Pappoe, etc. He even had football academies in other West African countries to help unearth talents.

Five years ago, the great Alhaji suffered cardiac arrest and died while training on the field to keep fit.

He is still remembered for the great impact he made in Ghana football.

Jordan Anagblah

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He was the chairman of the Greater Accra Regional Football Association and would later rise to become the vice president of the Ghana Football Association (GFA). 

Anagblah was the chairman of the Black Satellites (Ghana U-20) management committee who was instrumental in helping Ghana become the first African nation to win the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt (2009).

After battling with illness, he died while he was still at post as the Veep of the GFA.

His death was a great loss to football people and he was mourned by football administrators and fans in the country and overseas.

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