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Today In Sports History: Asante Kotoko legend Baba Yara dies at age 33

Baba Yara Footballer Asante Kotoko legend, Baba Yara

Wed, 5 May 2021 Source: happyghana.com

On this day 5 May 1969 (exactly 51 years back today) Former Asante Kotoko and Ghana winger Baba Yara ‘King of Wingers’ passed on at 33 years old.

Background

On March 24, 1963, Republikans played Volta Heroes at Kpandu, winning 5 – 0. On their way back to Accra, their transport was engaged with a mishap at Kpeve in the Volta Region. Yara, the pro footballer, was incapacitated after wounds he continued in the mishap.

Eyewitness accounts said the 23- seater bus skidded off the road in a curve in a slippery road and hit an embankment. Yara, seated near the main door, was thrown out of the bus and he might have been trampled by his colleagues in the stampede to get out of the bus.

Twelve different players, Agyemang Gyau, Kofi Pare, E. C. Oblitey, Dodoo Ankrah, Shitta, Edward Boateng, Carl Lokko, Wiliam Gibirine, Otto Odametey, S. Y. Tetteh, Salifu Musa, and Dodoo Quartey supported slight wounds. They were sent to Ho Hospital from where they were traveled to the 37 Military Hospital in Accra. The majority of them were released inside a couple of days.

They were sent to Ho Hospital from where they were flown to the 37 Military Hospital in Accra. Most of them were discharged within a few days.

Yara, accompanied by Dr. R. O. Addae, a surgical specialist from the 37 Military Hospital was flown to England where he was treated at the famous Stoke Mandeville Hospital for spinal injuries.

A week later, LA Ronde Night Club, a popular joint in Accra, presented Yara’s wife, Patience, with an air ticket to visit her husband in the UK.

Interestingly, the return ticket had been won by Yara two weeks before the accident when he was chosen as the best-dressed gentleman in a competition organised by the nightclub.

Initial reports from Stoke Mandeville Hospital said there was the possibility of the colourful football star ‘gaining a reasonable recovery within a period of four to six months.’

This was not to happen and on August 14, 1963, Yara returned home in a wheelchair. After a quiet life, the ‘King of Wingers’ died on May 5, 1969.



Born on 12 October 1936 in Kumasi, Yara was a hero runner in an Arabic School. At the age of 13, Yara showed perocity of talented footballer yet his insatiate want for games generally drew him to horse racing between 1950 – 1955 was a jockey at the Accra Turf Club.

In 1955 Yara came back to Kumasi and enlisted for Asante Kotoko; that same year he hit the headlines. He made an impressive foray into the international scene – Yara wore jersey No. 7 for Ghana’s victorious team which annihilated Nigeria by seven goals to nothing. Yara scored two and created four of the seven goals.

Capped 49 times, Yara whose originality and dexterity on the field were a delightful spectacle, scored 51 goals(including informal counterparts) for Ghana.

A natural footballer, Yara abhorred orthodoxy and believed that a coach's primary duty, similar to the music master, was to teach the student to read the notes and that the student’s own ingenuity and creativeness should enable him make melodious music with the d-r-m-f-s…

The incomparable Ghanaian winger was twice voted the Footballer of the Year and in 1961 won the highest soccer award of the State – the Most Distinguished Member of the Black Star Group.

His charming personality and affable character added to his dazzling football qualities made him the football hero of his generation. He was a football genius.

This was a player who for six years, one month, one week, and three days was bedridden but never lost hope.

Though dead, his spectacular performance on the field will long be remembered. Along the West Coast of Africa, Yara was invariably referred to as the original professor of the Black Star attacking machinery.

In European countries where Yara played as a member of the Black Star, he was frequently referred to as Africa’s Stanley Mathews.

As a schemer, he was in a class of his own. As a crater, he was a great asset to the original Black Star Group and as a striker his intelligence was beyond description.

A shy-looking and respectable gentleman both on and off the field, and that is why he was voted as the best-dressed gentleman in a contest organised by the proprietor of La Ronde Night Club, Mr. Habib J. Ghanem.

He was supposed to leave for a three–month tour of Britain as his reward when the accident occurred.

Mr. L. T. K. Ceaser, Deputy Director of Sports, on behalf of the Chairman and the Sports Council expressed grief to Baba Yara’s family.

Mr. Ceasar described Yara as one of Ghana’s brilliant and phenomenal footballers whose replacement ‘is yet to be filled’.

He said Yara was one of Ghana’s few national sportsmen whose character and sporting skills are a shining example for our youth.

Elsewhere;

On this day 5 May 1966 (Exactly 55 years prior today) Borussia Dortmund of West Germany won the sixth European Cup Winner’s Cup against Liverpool of England 2-1 in Glasgow

Goals Scored:

Dortmund

Siegfried Hold(62)

Reinhard Libuda (109)

Liverpool

Roger Hunt (68)

Source: happyghana.com
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