On this day 5 May 1969 (Exactly 51 years ago today) Former Asante Kotoko and Ghana winger Baba Yara ‘King of Wingers’ died at the age of 33.
On March 24, 1963, Republikans played Volta Heroes at Kpandu, winning 5 – 0. On their way back to Accra, their bus was involved in an accident at Kpeve in the Volta Region. Yara, the ace footballer, was paralysed following injuries he sustained in the accident.
Eyewitness accounts said the 23- seater bus skidded of 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 other 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 sustained slight injuries. 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, 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 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 night club.
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 12th October 1936 at Kumasi, Yara was a champion sprinter in an Arabic School. At the age of 13 Yara showed precocity as a talented footballer but his insatiate desire for games generally drew him to horse racing and between 1950 – 1955 was a jockey at the Accra Turf Club.
In 1955 Yara returned to Kumasi and registered 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 unofficial matches) for Ghana.
A natural footballer, Yara abhorred orthodoxy and believed that a coach’s primary duty, like 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 bed – ridden but never lost hope.
Though dead, his spectacular 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 creator of goals, he was a great asset to the original Black Star Group and 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 the best dressed gentleman in a contest organised by the proprietor of La Ronde Night Club, Mr Habib J. Ghanem.
He was to have left 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 of the Sports Council expressed grief to the late Baba Yara’s family.
Mr Ceaser 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 skill are a shinning example to our youth.
On this day 5 May 1966 (Exactly 54 years ago today) Borussia Dortmund of West Germany won the 6th European Cup Winner’s Cup against Liverpool of England 2-1 in Glasgow
Reinhard Libuda (109)
Roger Hunt (68)
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Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina was badly at fault as Ramires scored at the near post after 11 minutes and Chelsea looked in cruise control when Drogba continued his love affair with the FA Cup final and Wembley with an angled finish.
The introduction of substitute Andy Carroll sparked Liverpool into life and he pulled a goal back just after the hour – and thought he had equalised as Kenny Dalglish’s side laid siege to Chelsea’s goal in the closing stages.
On this day 5 May 2018 (Exactly 2 years ago today) Former Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson suffered a brain haemorrhage and was hospitalised.