News

Osei Kofi: The wizardry dribbler who single-handedly won Ghana’s 1965 AFCON

Osei Kofi was one of the players with exceptional talents that surfaced in Ghana‘s football scene in the late 1950s. He was nicknamed, the wizardry dribbler due to his ability to weave his way through a forest of legs even in the tightest of angles.

Osei Kofi wasn’t just a dribbler of the ball, but he was equally efficient in front of the goal, establishing himself as a clinical finisher.

Few players can put up an extraordinary performance throughout a tournament to make them be the talk of the town.

The FIFA World Cup which is the pinnacle of global football has witnessed a few instances of players showcasing amazing individual display to inspire their outfits to victory.

#left5::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

The case of Pele in 1958, Diego Armando Maradona in 1990 and Zinedine Zidane in 1998 are a few examples.

Osei Kofi carried Ghana on his shoulders to the famous triumph in the 1965 Africa Cup of Nations on 21st November 1965, exactly 55 years on 21st November 2020. Osei took the 1965 AFCON by storm and irked his name on the African map, which would be in the memories of the football-loving fans for many years to come.

One is not far from right to say that he single-handedly won Ghana the 1965 Africa Cup of Nations.

The ‘Soccer Show Boy’, as he was affectionately called by a section of the football fraternity was a member of the Black Stars team that won the 1963 Africa Cup of Nations on home soil (he was a member of the three players who were on standby to under-study the senior team as the skipper of the New Horizon which was the second national team).

Road to the 1965 AFCON triumph

Charles Kumi Gyamfi, the coach of the Black Stars and Ohene Djan, the Director of Sports realized the core players of the 1963 Black Stars team were fading out, so they augmented the squad for the title defence.

The likes of Edward Acquah, Aggrey Fyn, Mohammed Salisu and Ofei Dodoo had retired from international football. They weren’t available for Ghana’s title defence in Tunisia.

According to Osei Kofi in an exclusive interview with Pulse.com.gh, the Black Stars were underrated when they went to Tunisia for the title defence, because of the absence of key players of the 1963 team.

“In 1964 when we returned from the Olympic Games in Japan eight of the Black Stars players retired and that was why with my New Horizon team, we took over to go and defend the Africa Cup in Tunisia. When we went there Acquah, Aggrey were all not there,” he told Pulse.com.gh in an exclusive interview.

“They asked, where is Edward Acquah, Aggrey Fyn, etc? We said they have retired and they told us then why did you come.

“George Alhassan, Willie Evans, myself, Sam Acquah, Frank Odoi, Oman Mensah, Kwame Nti were the new players I brought from the New Horizon to fill the gap that had been created by the retired national stars.

#left16::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

“Our first assignment was Ghana vs Nigeria at the Onyinka Stadium which is now the Olympics Stadium.

“We beat Nigeria 0-4 and one of their commentators, one of the best Osholonsho Oshoala. He is always on the ball. Nigerians are watching good football.”

Unfortunately for Charles Kumi Gyamfi’s charges, the skipper of the side Wilberforce Mfum sustained an injury few days to the tournament and it ruled him out.

READ MORE: Akrobeto goes global as Chelsea skipper Azpilicueta shares his video

Despite having players like Ben Acheampong, Kofi Pare, Addo Odametey, who were part of the remaining players from the 1963 winning team, it was Osei Kofi who would establish himself as the Iconic figure of the tournament.

Ghana was drawn in group B with Ivory Coast and DR Congo. Osei Kofi opened his goal-scoring account as the Black Stars defeated DR Congo 5-2 in the group stage and he provided two assists as Ghana walloped Ivory Coast 4-1 in the group stage. Before scoring the match winner when Ghana edged 4-3 the Ivorians in the semi-finals, which was a rematch of their group stage clash.

Ghana set a date with the host nation Tunisia in the grand finale. As if Osei Kofi was possessed during the final against Tunisia, he scored and provided an assist as Ghana defeated the North Africans 3-2 to become the first country to beat a host nation in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations.”

The Ghanaian attacking force was led by Osei Kofi cast in the mould of Brazil’s Garrincha. Osei Kofi bamboozled the entre defence of Tunisia to slam in the equaliser.

#left24::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

The former Asante Kotoko winger said Ghana was trailing the North Africans with few minutes to end the game. It was then that he mustered the courage to make a solo move to snatch the equalizer for Ghana, following a signal from Ohene Djan.

“I asked Ohene Djan to buy me a three in one CD Player in Rome. He promised to buy it on the condition I put up an outstanding display in the tournament. When Ghana was losing the game the Director of Sports signalled me from the touchline asking that are you not interested in the CD player anymore? and that gingered me to go that extra mile for the equaliser,” he said

“When the game entered into extra time. I told the rest of the players to withdraw and leave me in the attacking role. There was a corner kick and I kicked it in such a way that it was on his way into the net only for Frank Odoi to nod it home for the match-winner. Some even attributed the goal to me and the newspapers captured me as the scorer, but I clarified it was Odoi later on,” he said.

Osei Kofi added that after the game the Director of Sports showered praises on him for his exceptional display in the final.

“Ohene Djan, who was the Director of Sport told me that Osei Kofi you have done a yeoman’s job because we won this Africa Cup of Nations because of you.

“He gave me a ride at his back and covered me with his cloth like a baby,” he narrated.

1965 AFCON triumph saved coup plotter Osei Kofi from imprisonment

Rev Osei Kofi believe he would have been sent to Nsawam prison if Ghana hadn’t won the 1965 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) because he attempted a coup in the Black Stars before the tournament.

#left32::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

The President of Ghana at the time Dr. Kwame Nkrumah had much interest in football and he decided to use the Black Stars as a tool for African Unity.

Osei Kofi following a disagreement in the camp of the Black Stars decided to boycott the tournament and he was joined by some of his teammates.

Ohene Djan and Mr. BK Eduse had to persuade before rescinding his decision.

According to Osei Kofi, he and his teammates needed to prove a point in the tournament to atone for the confusion created in camp, because the blame would be pinned on them should the Black Stars fail to successfully defend the title.

“In those days the economy of this country was in shambles. So, if you want to travel you have to go to the Bank of Ghana with your passport and change 20 pounds for your pocket, so that when you go and you get something you buy it. But when the Black Stars go to camping Ohene Djan will collect everybody’s passport and give them to the protocol officer to the embassy for visas,” Osei recounted.

“Not knowing we got the visas long time and Ohene Djan had given Republicans players passport to them to go to the bank to change the money.

“But he didn’t give the passport of players playing for Hearts, Kotoko and other clubs to them because he wanted to please the Republicans players so that every player will join them.

“When I got to know this, I am principled and no that I don’t respect. What Ohene Djan did wasn’t in the right direction, so I had to challenge him that if I don’t get my passport to go and change my own money, then I am not going to Tunisia and it became a problem.

#left40::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

“I told Addo Odametey who was then the captain of the Black Stars that if I don’t get my passport, then I am leaving to Kumasi.

“I packed up my things. It was 11 am and we were leaving for Tunisia that night. So, I was in the room when Ben Kusi, Kwame Nti and Agyemang Gyau came. They saw me packing and they asked me why and I told them. We packed up our things. When we were leaving the stadium, they called Ohene Djan and he walked barefooted to come and stop us. We had then chartered a taxi and about to leave, but they asked the taxi driver that does he wants to go to Nsawam, doesn’t he know the Black Stars are leaving for Tunisia and he fainted. We had to put water on him to be revived.

“We walked to where the women and children’s office is, that was where the American Embassy was and we met Mr. B.K Adusei. He asked us Osei where are you people going to. I told him we will be going to Tunisia this night so we want to go and put our things somewhere and he told me then come and put it in my house.

“The plan has spoilt. When we got to Mr. B.K Adusei’s house Ohene Djan was already there. Fortunately, Ohene Djan told Mr. BK. Edusei all the truth and he had to intervene.

“We were five, but one wasn’t part of the team but Mr. BK Adusei gave each of the five 20 pounds. So Mr. B.K Adusei has killed what happened.

“I told my people that now that the issue is settled, so if we go and the team doesn’t perform, we are in trouble because Ohene Gyan will come and tell Osagyefo that we destroyed the team’s spirit here before leaving.

“By God’s grace when training started those of us that nearly had a coup, even the defenders in all the matches performed and it convinced Ohene Djan that something better would come out of it.

“If we had not come to Tunisia Ohene Djan would have been sent to Nsawam (prison), so he did what he was supposed to do by convincing us and if we had not won the cup automatically, so we supported each one during the tournament with inspirational words. otherwise, we would go to Nsawam (prison).

#left48::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

“Ohene Djan himself said that Osei we are all safe, after winning the cup”

Early life and family – Education

Osei Kofi was born in Tafo in the Eastern Region on 3rd June 1940 to Madam Akusua Ewusi and Mr. Kwabena Benine. He hails from Koforidua, which is the capital of the Eastern Region.

He completed his Middle School education with distinction in 1958 at the Koforidu M/A Zion School. He had to interchange schools between Koforidua and Old Tafo from 1950 until he finally graduated in 1958.

Like many Ghanaian children who grow up from a poor home, Osei Kofi couldn’t further his education because of financial constraints and had to learn a trade.

“I had a teacher who told me Osei, you know how to play football very well and academically you are brilliant, so go to school, but I couldn’t continue because the family wasn’t wealthy,” he said.

Trade

Osei Kofi joined his father who had moved to Tema after completing Middle School in 1958.

#left56::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

His father was a driver at the time and worked with him as a bus conductor (mate) and they used to transport dynamite (quarrying rocks) from Takoradi to Tema.

His father played a role in the construction of the Tema Harbour, because the dynamite he was transporting was used in quarrying stones for the construction of the Harbour.

“My father is one of the foundation members of the Tema Harbour. I joined my father at Tema as a mate. We go to Sekondi Takoradi to bring dynamite, where we were using it to blast the rocks for the construction of the Harbour,” he said.

Destined to play football and the role of ‘gutter to gutter’

Osei Kofi was destined to play football to the highest level and glimpses of his talent started emerging right at infancy.

Osei Kofi would kick and play anything round that looks like a football and the item that suffered most were foodstuff such as tomatoes, onions, etc.

His parents were compelled to buy him tennis balls to salvage the situation of destroying food ingredients meant for cooking.

He recounts that his parents bought him tennis balls and he used it in playing ‘gutter to gutter’, which was the foundation of his football career.

#left64::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

“According to my mother when I was crawling if they don’t get me a tennis ball, I will use tomatoes, onions and what not they are going to use in making soup, put them in socks and by the time they return from the market I have spoilt everything.

“So, they were compelled to buy me tennis balls whereby when I started walking, you know we have streets just in front of our houses. I have two gutters and the tennis balls that is what I was using.

Osei Kofi shared his experience in the gutter to gutter with Bennett University in Germany in 1989 when he went for a coaching course.

Osei Kofi subconsciously used gutter to gutter as the foundation of his football and contributed immensely in helping the German University to develop a framework for it.

“I did something that they had to ask me. I told the man that it was the gutter to gutter (learnt it as a result of my knowledge about ‘gutter to gutter’). I had to beat the man from where I was standing, before scoring. They copied it and I even directed them on how to go about it,” Osei told Pulse.com.gh.

How his diminutive personality hampered his football career in the early stages

Many footballers have had challenges with their stature which almost denied them the opportunity to exhibit their playing abilities. In recent times, the six times FIFA/Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi is the person who comes to mind.

He was born with physical conditions which was a challenge to his growth so Barcelona had to step in to support him by footing the medical expenses to enhance his growth and that is the more reason he feels indebted to the Catalans. Abedi Pele also struggled in Europe because of his tiny stature in the 1980s.

#left72::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

Osei Kofi had been denied several opportunities to explore his football talent and he got the chance to finally play after a player got injured in a trial match.

Osei recounts that he prayed to God for a player to get injured and that finally paved way for him to get the chance to play in Tema and it marked the beginning of his football adventure.

“In front of our house, there was a school, where the gurus in Tema come there to train. If you look at my size now and you compare it to the olden days you can just imagine. When they come to train and they line up, I join them every blessed day for three good months. When they come and count, they tell me a small boy sit down when somebody gets injured then you come and play for three months.

“I trusted myself and I wasn’t getting the chance to play until one Sunday. I knew I wasn’t going to get the chance to play so I didn’t take my boots. The line came and I joined the queue and fortunately for me, we were 12. They told me small sit down when someone gets injured then you come and play, so when I was going to sit down, I said God won’t you let someone get injured for me to get the chance to play.

“Ten minutes (into the game) somebody got injured. They called, where is the small boy and I came barefooted. After my first touch, then the referee said small where is your boot. I told him that it is in the house then he said everybody sit down. Lo and behold when I came, they asked me small where do you play, I responded that anywhere in the forward line. They put me at the number 7 position. I wish you were there that day. I displayed in such a manner that they asked me to play in my favourite position”.

The inspiration behind his rise to stardom

Osei Kofi was born into a football family because his dad excelled as a player.

His father played for Rovers at Old Tafo in the Eastern Region of Ghana and he contributed immensely in the development of Rovers Park at Old Tafo.

#left80::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

According to Osei Kofi his father and his Rovers teammate planted a coconut tree each at the Park and they in wrote their names on the tree for their memories to live on.

And as a schoolboy the sighting his father’s coconut tree at THE Rovers Park inspired him to play football to the highest level.

“Each of the players planted Coconut tree and wrote their names on them, so when I started going to school, I saw my father’s coconut tree and that gingered me to be one of the best footballers,” he told Pulse.com.gh.

Club career

Great Argonauts

Osei Kofi after completing his Middle School Education went to learn a trade in Tema yet his football talent was discovered.

Osei Kofi was supposed to learn blacksmithing, but fortunately for him Mr. Budu, a foreigner who was to teach him the trade allowed him to play an organised football club for the first time.

Mr. Budu was the coach of Great Argonauts and that was how it all started.

#left88::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

“I was sent to a white man Mr. Budi. I just wanted to learn blacksmithing, so he took me up and one day, he and his wife were passing by and they saw me training. He stopped and walked down there and asked Kofi are you a footballer, you should have told me? I said I just came to learn blacksmithing and not football. Not knowing he was the coach of Accra Great Argonauts. I wish you can help me. I am the coach of Accra Great Argonauts, so after work I join him to Korle Bu Park where we were playing,”

“Even at Accra Argonauts those with foresight could predict Osei Kofi would one day be a national star. Edward Acquah, Baba Yara and Aggrey Fyn, who were the three best players in the Black Stars in the late 1950s predicted that he would soon take over from them after they were thrilled by his performance in a game at the Accra Sports Stadium for Argonauts.

“One day we played against Winneba Black Devils in the 2nd division league. The Black Stars were in the camp then and that was the first-time seeing Baba Yara, Edward Acquah, Mfum and others.

“We beat them (opponents) 5-2 and I scored three of the goals for Argonauts and after the match Edward Aquah, Baba Yara and Aggrey Fyn called me and told me that eii small tiny creature like this playing football in such a manner. They contributed 5 pounds each, so I hard 15 pounds for the display I put up.

“They told me that in the near future I will take over and that was in 1959”.

Hearts of Oak

Osei Kofi played for Argonauts in the second division for the 1960/61 season and since they were based in Accra, the Phobians had the chance to monitor him.

Especially they needed a replacement for their right winger Ofei Dodoo who had left for the star-studded Real Republicans in the 1960/1961 season, hence unearthed the little Osei Kofi to fill the void.

#left96::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

The Wizardry dribbler in the course of his career with Argonauts had planned of joining Great Ashanti’s in Kumasi in the first division, but Hearts of Oak gazumped the Kumasi based club and snapped him up for the 1961/1962 season.

A difficult beginning at Hearts of Oak

The rise of Osei Kofi to stardom faced an initial struggle like the tale of most successful persons in all walks of life.

He nearly quit football when he made his debut for Accra Hearts of Oak. It took the encouragement of Amadu Akuse to bring his confidence back.

Osei narrated the horrific start to his career at Hearts of Oak which almost forced him to throw in the towel and how Akuse became his saviour.

Osei Kofi after a poor start to his Hearts of Oak career left camp following a poor debut against local rivals Accra Great Olympics.

The right-winger who had eaten two balls of fufu in camp before the game felt too heavy and he couldn’t make any move throughout the game.

Osei said he performed so poorly that the Hearts of Oak fans began to yell at him on the field and what saved him from not walking out of the game was the fact he didn’t understand the Ga language.

#left104::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

Osei Kofi left the camp of Hearts of Oak for Koforidua, where he was before joining his father at Tema, immediately after the game

Hearts of Oak sent a delegation to Koforidua to persuade him to return to camp. Osei Kofi thought he needed some time away from football.

Osei Kofi believes Hearts of Oak went that extra mile to save his career a gesture he still feels indebted to the Phobians even 60 years down memory lane.

He won the league title with Hearts of Oak in his debut season with Accra giants in the 1961/1962 season.

Osei said that he and Edward Aggrey Fyn who was the skipper of the Hearts of Oak won the league title for the Phobians.

“In 1961 when Hearts won the won the league. For the league it was me and Aggrey Fyn who won the league for Accra Hearts of Oaks and they know,” he said.

Kotoko

Osei Kofi with his Kotoko teammates (He is 2nd from the right)
Osei Kofi with his Kotoko teammates (He is 2nd from the right)

#left112::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

The biggest rivalry in Ghanaian football is between Accra Hearts of Oak and Kumasi Asante Kotoko.

Over the years a move from one side to the other has faced much opposition and one of the most famous transfer battles happened in 2003 when mercurial midfielder Charles Taylor left Hearts of Oak for Asante Kotoko.

Osei Kofi’s move from the Phobians to the Porcupine Warriors was, however, a smooth one because it happened in the era when clubs signed no professional contracts with players.

Back then during registration for the start of every football season a player could just pick up his bag and baggage and join a club of his choice because players were amateurs and they didn’t have any professional contacts.

Osei Kofi had just had one successful season with Accra Hearts of Oak and they were enthused with his performance and like Oliver Twist, they wanted to ask for more of his great performances.

“Fortunately for me, we were amateurs those days. we were not professionals so there were no signings.

“You can just pick up your bag and leave to anywhere,” he told Pulse.com.gh.

Kotoko paid Osei Kofi 30 pounds as enticement fees to help his dad divorce his stepmother

#left120::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

Osei Kofi’s father was the driver of Mr. B.K Adusei, a businessman who was also a patron of Kumasi Asante Kotoko.

According to the former Black Stars player, his father was not happy in his marriage with his stepmother. When he realized Mr. B.K Adusei was ready to pay for the amount court had ordered him to pay to facilitate the divorce process he agreed to join Asante Kotoko, because that was a condition he needed to fulfil.

“When I was with Hearts of Oaks, I was with my father in Tema who was married to a Krobo woman and the treatment the Krobo woman was giving to my father I didn’t like it, so I decided to be behind my father,” he said.

“I was at the clubhouse of Hearts of Oak at Korle Gonno when my father came one evening after Hearts had won the league. He said Kofi I have started divorce process for the woman in Tema and court has ordered me to pay 30 pounds”.

“He was a driver to Mr. B.K Adusei and when he needed the 30 pounds somebody told Mr. B.K Adusei the man who needed the money is the father of Osei Kofi, so tell the man to go and bring Osei to come and collect the money. My father told me that because of the woman I have to just leave Hearts and join Kotoko, because Mr. B. K Adusei is paying the money for the court fee.

Osei Kofi said that Hearts Oak would have held on to him if he had told them of the issue because he was a key player in the club.

The man affectionately called ‘Show Boy’ who believes Hearts of Oak were the reason why he became a great footballer still feels apologetic to the Phobian fraternity for ditching them for the Porcupine Warriors.

“I was so happy, but unfortunately Hearts of Oak would have paid the money because I was one of the top players at the club,” he added

#left128::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

“But because of the love I had for my father against the woman, that night I just packed my things and before Hearts realized I was in Kumasi the following day without telling them.

“I have made the greatest mistake of my life because of what they did for me. The first time I didn’t do well and the second time I went to the national team (received a call-up to the Black Stars after his second game for the Phobians). To leave them in such a manner it was not good at all for me. But I have done it”.

Coach Ember’s impact on Osei Kofi’s career at Kotoko

Osei Kofi is known for his ability to take on any defence and he has indicated that one coach who helped his career was coach Jozef Ember.

Ember was a Hungarian coach who was recruited to handle the Black Stars in 1963 and Asante Kotoko signed him on after his contract with the national team expired.

“Coach Ember was the last white coach for the Black Stars before C.K Gyamfi took over from him after he returned from Fortuna Dusseldorf (coaching course in the German city).

“Mr. B.K Edusei and Mr. Kuffour signed him for Kotoko. When he became the coach, he organised a meeting and told the officials that nobody should talk to me about any tactical plan. He is now the coach of Kotoko so he is the sole person to talk to me. I didn’t know coach Ember had seen something in me and the way he prepared me; I go to know I would go places. He gave us three best goalkeepers in the country,” Osei narrated.

Kotoko had perhaps the deadliest attacking force in the history of the Ghanaian topflight league, thanks to Josef Ember.

#left136::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

Wilberforce Mfum, Osei Kofi, Mohammed Salisu, Abukari Gariba and Malik Jabir were all attacking players and it made Kotoko a force to reckon with both locally and internationally.

Osei Kofi has said that the secret behind the invincible attacking force of Asante Kotoko was the Hungarian tactician Jozef Ember.

“There was a time Kotoko forward lines were myself Osei Kofi at number 7, Mfum at number 8, Salisu at number 11, Malik at number 10, Abukari at number 9. All these players were strikers. This was done by coach Ember, he prepared us.

“When we put pressure on you and the way we trained we played more than 90 minutes and we will pressure you until the last 25 minutes. We are all human beings and that is where we have the Kotoko finishing attack. Even if we are down by any number of goals. This thing was given to us by coach Ember”

“So, if you ask the secret behind the 1964 league when we went through unscratched then it is because of coach Ember the training and treatment we went through by coach Ember.

A successful spell at Kotoko

Osei Kofi was instrumental as Kotoko became the first club to play an entire half a season in Ghanaian football history without a defeat in the 1963/1964 season.

Despite being halted in the latter part of the second round by Hearts of Oak, the Porcupine Warriors ended the season as champions to end three seasons without a league title- 1960/1961-Eleven Wise, 1961/1962-Hearts of Oak, 1962/1963- Real Republicans.

#left144::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

Kotoko took over from Republicans thanks to the attacking machinery of the club centred around the attacking trio of Osei Kofi, Wilberforce Mfum and Mohammed Salisu.

Osei Kofi bagged 21 league goals to emerge as one of the top-scoring players in the league, though not playing as the leading attacker.

His goal-scoring spree was amazing since his core obligation was to create space with his tricky dribbles and skills for his teammates to find the back of the net. Yet his numbers indicate how effective he was with the few opportunities which were created for him or he decided to take on defenders and score in a solo effort.

Asante Kotoko retained the league title in the 1964/1965 season and once again Osei Kofi was in the thick of events. His goal returns were awesome scoring 20 league goals.

Asante Kotoko’s total dominance was sandwiched by the 1966 coup de tat which forced the Ghana Amateur Football Association (GAFA) to abrogate the league.

However, a knockout was organized in 1968 to determine winners of the 1966 aborted league and Asante Kotoko who felt being ill-treated withdrew from the competition. Dwarfs, in the end, emerged champions.

The Porcupine Warriors after the coup de tat continued their dominance in the domestic league. They won the 1967/1968 league title and defended it in the 1969 season, with Osei Kofi scoring 22 and 21 goals respectively.

One of his stellar performances in the 1967/19868 season came against Accra Hearts of Oak.

#left152::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

Kotoko was dethroned in 1970 by Olympics and in 1971 Hearts of Oak took over, because they turned their attention to continental football, so they even played fewer games within the period.

But the Porcupine Warriors bounced back in 1972.

Winning the top scorer at Asante Kotoko for six consecutive seasons,

Osei Kofi played alongside Wilberforce Kwadwo Mfum, who is one of the finest strikers Ghana has ever had and also with Mohammed Salisu, Abukari Gariba who were all attacking players.

However, his ball sense in front of goal enabled him to topple them and emerged as the most reliable goal-getter for the Porcupine Warriors.

One could say that his ability to cut his opponents’ defence into ribbons and go for solo goals played to his advantage vis-avi his attacking partners. He was also good at set-pieces such as corner kicks and penalties and all these were his sources of goals.

At Asante Kotoko, Osei Kofi won the club’s top scorer, for six consecutive seasons from the mid-1960s.

Osei Kofi in shared his goal-scoring techniques in an exclusive interview with Pulse Ghana.

#left160::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

The first player to win the Ghanaian topflight league with both Hearts and Kotoko

The man whom we are celebrating his 80th birthday for his remarkable contribution to Ghana football, after struggling at the initial stage of his career at Hearts of Oak found his feet and became a key part of the team.

He helped the Phobians to win the 1961/1962 National Division One League which was topflight at the time and the following season he dished Hearts of Oak for their rivals.

African dominance

Asante Kotoko was the second Ghanaian club after Real Republicans to participate in Africa inter-club competition in 1966. They were halted by Stade Abidjan and with the experience they had gathered, the Kumasi giants would be unstoppable the following year.

Kotoko went all the way to the final. Led by the abled leadership of Mfum, with the support of Africa’s finest player at the time Osei Kofi, they were good to go.

Osei Kofi scored key goals as the Porcupine Warriors reached the final of the campaign. They faced Englebert now TP Mazembe who would be Asante Kotoko sworn enemies on the Africa continent in the grand finale. The Congolese held the Porcupine Warriors to a 1-1 draw and Asante Kotoko stormed Kinshahsha and gave their opponents a good run for their money as the reverse fixture ended 2-2.

If it were the era when the away goal rule hadn’t been instituted, Asante Kotoko would have been African champions. Because nothing like that existed, the referee ushered the two sides into the toss of coins to break the tie.

#left168::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

It was reported that Asante Kotoko was cheated in the toss of the coin because the Congolese skipper started jubilating before the coin could even land the grounds.

However, Osei Kofi who was played in the game said that the match officials connived with the Congolese that they should start jubilating before the coin lands the ground, but one of the officials hinted them and they decided not to go on with the toss of a coin.

African Football Confederation (now Confederation of African Football) then organized a rematch between Englebert and Asante Kotoko, but the Porcupine Warriors were not communicated to so they failed to appear for the final and the Congolese giants were crowned champions of Africa.

Kotoko made several pleas but it failed to materialize.

“African Football Confederation decided that there should be a toss of a coin. When we were preparing then one of our interpreters was standing behind the referee and the Congolese team officials speaking in French and he heard the officials that when the coin is thrown up, they shouldn’t let it fall before they start jubilating and the supporters will back them up. We complained to the match commissioner that we won’t accept the toss of the coin because this is what we have heard and that helped us and the toss of a coin couldn’t come on,” he recounted.

“We were told to come back and AFC will inform us. The next match will be played in Cameroon. The date and everything will be communicated to Kotoko.

“Unfortunately for us, Nana Fredua Mensah who was the chairman of the Ghana Football Association did nit know African Football Confederation (AFC) had written to him the venue and the date for the final. Kotoko was not communicated to and later we got to know the Zairean team Englebert had gone to Cameroon and the cup had been awarded to them. We approached Nana Fredua Mensah and he didn’t say anything and that was why Kotoko lost the cup.

Captain of 1970 Kotoko Africa Club Champions Cup-winning team

#left176::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

Osei Kofi was the skipper of Asante Kotoko when they won the 1970 Africa inter-club competition. He was assisted by Ibrahim Sunday, who would captain Kotoko in the absence of Osei Kofi in the final.

Kotoko en route to the final avenged their defeat in 1969 against Ismaily, beat Young Africans of Tanzania to book their place in the final.

Osei Kofi who had left camp to negotiate for the Christmas bonus of the players suffered an accident. He sat on a motorbike and the unfortunate thing happened, which sidelined him ahead of the final, which was scheduled for January 1971.

Osei travelled with the team to Kinshasa, but he watched them from the stands as his teammates gallantly fought Englebert tooth and nail to stun the host at their backyard.

The first leg in Ghana had ended one all and the hopes of Asante Kotoko fans of winning the champions cup for the very first time had died down, but the playing body defied all odds to beat Englebert in front of their home fans 1-2 to avenge the 1967 unfair treatment against them by CAF.

Osei Kofi indicated that the trophy Kotoko won in 1970 should be dedicated to the legendary Ghanaian goalkeeper the late Robert Mensah because he stood between the 23 times champions of Ghana and the Congolese by making countless of point-blank saves and long-range ones as well to deny the host from scoring.

“I wish you were there. We were like the home team. We had men who were confident, especially Robert Mensah,” he said.

“Robert Mensah was in top shape and when you look at the Kotoko XI even the Englebert team were afraid of us.

#left184::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

“Robert Mensah was putting on a cap whenever he was in the post and everywhere Robert was there and it was reported to the referee that the cap should be removed. When the referee asked Robert, he removed the cap and gave it to the referee. Yet with all what they do as Kofi Badu said all seabulous to Fabulous Asante Kotoko to their great victory in a ruthless cup final in Kinshasa. After the match, the guy who missed the penalty kick was sent to jail (Englebert were awarded a penalty but they missed it).

“This cup should have been attributed to Robert Mensah. During the penalty kick the way, he was in the post removed the hat (waved it to scare his opponents) and he was reported, so the hat was in hands of the referee when they kicked the ball”

Ill-treatment meted out to Kotoko in Africa Champions Cup

As already indicated Kotoko lost the 1967 Champions Cup because the date and the venue for the final wasn’t communicated to them. In 1971 they could have defended the title against Canon Yaoundé.

Kotoko won the first leg 3-0 in Kumasi and lost the reverse fixture 2-0, yet a replay was rescheduled and Kotoko lost it. It was a clear case of cheating because Kotoko won the game 3-2 on aggregate, yet a replay was scheduled. AFC after the second leg communicated to Kotoko that the champions should be based on superior points and not superior goals difference.

Osei Kofi who was in the thick of events in all these years has lamented over the ill-treatment meted out to Kotoko in the 1960s and the 1970s.

“We beat Canon Yaoundé 3-0 in Kumasi and took one jersey to Cameroon and they beat us 1-0 and when we were going for the cup they said it is a draw.

“All the changes that came to AFC it was a because of Kotoko. We have beaten you 3-0 and you beat us 1-0 and you say it is a draw,” he told Pulse.com.gh

#left192::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

Kotoko reached the final in 1973, but this time lost the cup fairly against AS Vita Club of Congo. They won 4-2 at home and lost 3-0 in the reverse fixture.

Osei Kofi
Osei Kofi

Kotoko beat Stoke City with Gordon Banks featuring and Osei Kofi scored twice.

A Ghanaian first division soccer club is equal to any first division club anywhere in the world. You can say this again for the way Asante Kotoko, a champion club of Ghana outplayed and outscored the touring English first division club Stoke City at the Kumasi Sports Stadium on Sunday 3rd March 1968.

This proved to all critics that Ghana brand of football was never inferior to that of England, who was then the reigning World Champions.

Kotoko won the game by three goals to one, despite Stoke City entering into the game with all the seriousness it required by fielding a full-strength side including international goalkeeper Gordon Banks best goalkeeper of all-time in England soccer history and considered second best to Lev Yashin in the history of World soccer.

Right from the start of the game, all attention was on Banks. Fans were anxious to see some of the fantastic saves that carried him through the 1966 World Cup with a record of not conceding more than two goals in a game. But the Kumasi boys proved to him that this is Ghana, by scoring three goals against him.

The Porcupine Warriors started the game on a very poor note and as a result, conceded a 10th-minute goal through the foot of Alan Bloor to put Stoke City in the driving seat, but the tide changed in their favour and this resulted in the equalizer in the 24th minute after a brilliant combination between Osei Kofi and Abukari, enabled the latter to put the ball beyond the reach of Banks.

#left200::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

In the 68th minute, Abukari beat Banks for the second time and hardly had the cheers that greeted the goal had died than Osei Kofi slot in the third and final goal for Kotoko.

Line-up:

Kotoko: Vanden Boosch, Assuming, Boateng, Berko, Iddi, Ibrahim Suday, Osei Koi, Mfum, Malik Jabir, Abukari Gariba and Osumanu Orlando

Stoke City: Gordon Banks, Alex Elder, Bill Bentley, John Marsh, Alan Bloor, Willy Stephenson, Terry Conroy, George Eastham, Peter Dobing, John Mohoney and Hurry Burrows.

Hero of the Kotoko team that toured the U.K in 1969

Asante Kotoko in 1969 became the first Ghanaian club to tour the U.K in 1969.

In 1969, Kumasi Asante Kotoko toured Britain to play 6 matches against top sides such Oxford, Birmingham City, and Stoke City.

Kotoko had previously beaten Stoke City by 3-1 at the Kumasi Sports Stadium. Osei Kofi scored two goals against one of the then-best goalkeepers in the world Gordon Banks. In the return leg at Stoke City’s ground, the host avenged the defeat, beating Kotoko 3-2, but Osei Kofi, the Dribbling Magician as he was affectionately known scored two goals again, and once again it was Gordon Banks.

#left208::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

Despite, having faced Osei Kofi a year early Gordons Banks failed to get an antidote to the Soccer Show Boy’s style of play and once again he scored twice against the 1966 FIFA World Cup winner.

Banks was so much enthused with Osei Kofi and he recommended him to the management of Stoke City that they should sign him because, in two years, he will be the best player in the world.

“Immediately after the game Gordon Banks congratulated me and told the officials of Stoke City to sign me on because, in the next two years, I was going to be a better player than George Best (the World best player at the time),” Osei said

The English media was impressed with his performance and likened to George Best of Manchester United.

On his return, he was nicknamed Ghana George Best.

Although Stoke offered a contract to Osei Kofi, he was not to return to the UK, a decision he says he never regretted.

International football

Osei Kofi earned his first Black Stars call-up in 1961. It was immediately after his second match for Accra Hearts of Oak.

#left216::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

In a career which lasted from 1961 to 1973 Osei Kofi registered 26 goals for Ghana in international games.

Osei Kofi took over as skipper of the Black Stars in 1970 and led the team until he hanged up his boot as a player for the national team in 1973.

“I couldn’t do well in the first match (for Hearts of Oak), but in the second match, I did so well that Ohene Djan, the Director of Sports and Mr. C.K Gyamfi, then the national team coach invited me to the national team in 1961 and 1962 Ohene Djan with my size appointed me as the captain of the ‘New Horizon’ which is the second national team (U-23).

“Could you believe because of my size and me we were not playing friendly matches or trial matches at the Accra Sports Stadium because he way I will destroy the seniors (Black Stars), the former Kotoko skipper indicated.

“I was a dribbler and I dribble. I don’t care. During matches I don’t respect. Ohene Djan told me plainly that because of you there will be no trial matches at the Accra Sports Stadium”.

He made his Black Stars debut against Real Madrid when the European giants toured Ghana in 1962.

1963 Africa Cup of Nations

“When there is a call-up we have the 30, then it is pruned down. I was part of the 30” he said. That was why as the skipper of the New Horizon, I had the chance to play for the Black Stars in the Tokyo Olympics.”

#left224::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

The Black Stars won the 1963 Africa Cup of Nations, beating Sudan in the final.

1965 Africa Cup of Nations

Osei Kofi
Osei Kofi

He inspired Ghana to the 1965 Africa Cup of Nations triumph which was staged in Tunisia. He scored three goals in the finals to emerge as the joint top scorer.

His three goals included one in the final and he made five assists in the competition.

Osei Kofi with the Black Stars in 1967 (He is second from the right among those squatting)
Osei Kofi with the Black Stars in 1967 (He is second from the right among those squatting)

1968 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)

Osei Kofi was Ghana’s all-time top scorer in the AFCON for many years

#left232::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

He bagged seven goals in just two Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 1965 (three goals) and 1968 (four goals). This was a Ghanaian record and it stood for several years 5 decades until it was first broken by Asamoah Gyan in 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and now Andre Ayew has extended it to nine goals.

Boycotted 1970 Africa Cup of Nations

Osei Kofi refused to participate in the 1970 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) held in Sudan following a confrontation with the then Minister for Sports.

The nimble-footed player was asked by his teammates to negotiate on their behalf with the Minister regarding promotions at their various work-places when they return from the tournament, but the discussion generated into an argument and the Kotoko marksman felt insulted, so he decided not to participate in the tournament.

“My teammates told me to speak on their behalf so that we get promoted at our various workplaces when we return, but the Minister told am I a graduate to ask for a promotion?,” Osei said.

“I won’t mince words, I told him he is stupid for telling me that because my legs are graduates. And because of what he has said I won’t play for Ghana in the tournament.”

Summer Olympics Games

He is the only Ghanaian player to have participated in three Olympic Games.

#left240::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

He made his Olympic Games debut in 1964 in Tokyo. He was again selected for both the 1968 Olympics in Mexico and 1972 in Munich.

He has scored one goal for the Black Stars in the Olympics in 1968 in a one-all draw against El Salvador.

Why the Black Stars were the toast of the people?

In those days when there is a trial match, we will go round the country. When you gave a pen and a paper to a schoolboy to name selection for the next Sunday national team, he will give you 100 percent. The Black Stars were attached to the public, especially when we won the 1964 Africa Cup and in 1964 we were vying for the Olympics. It started after winning the Africa Cup of Nations. Ohene Djan printed T-shirts, operation Tokyo. Very interesting, we worked towards things ahead of us.

“My experience started from the New Horizon, we were playing West African countries, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, La Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso.”

Regrets

Osei Kofi feels former national team players are not appreciated enough and he cited an incident that happened in the 1990s to buttress his stance:

Legendary Ghanaian footballer Rev Osei Kofi indicated that a kettle he received plus GHC 20 as a present from the Ghana Football Association (GFA) during Ade Coker’s tenure nearly burnt down his rented apartment because of its inferiority.

#left248::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

“I quite remember, during Ade Coker’s time at the Ghana Football Association (GFA), I was invited for an award ceremony with my senior former Black Stars teammates namely Edward Acquah, Aggrey Fyn and others,” Osei Kofi told Pulse Ghana.

“The ceremony was live on TV and to my surprise so as the rest of my former teammates, we were handed just a kettle and handed GHC20. My children watched it on TV and when they saw it, they felt sorry for me and that was the reason why none of them took after me as a footballer.

“Edward Acquah said when we were on our way leaving the place that so they invited us here to give us a kettle and GHC 20 to buy milo for tea.

“I told them I would have rejected the items if they weren’t present for the award as well because they were my seniors.

“The kettle almost burnt somebody’s house when I used it”

Osei Kofi on why he changed his mind never to captain a team

Aggrey Fyn was perhaps born a leader. He captained every single team he played for both club and country. His leadership qualities were second to none.

Aggrey Fyn was the skipper of Sekondi Hasaacas and when he switched camp to Accra Hearts of Oak who had already won the Ghanaian topflight league twice and had a lot of experienced players in date fold, Aggrey Fyn again made the leader of the Phobians. He inspired them to the 1961/1962 league triumph.

#left256::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

Osei Kofi who captained the New Horizon (now the Black Meteors), the Black Stars and Asante have said that but for the exemplary leadership of Aggrey Fyn, he wouldn’t have accepted the opportunity to lead a team.

“During matches when you make a mistake he won’t talk; he will just use his eyes. When you just see his eyes, you will know that you have made a mistake. He won’t be angry at or abuse you.

“He is one captain that I decided not to be a captain, but because of him I decided to captain the New Horizon” the 1965 Ghana’s sportsman of the year indicated.

Style of play and philosophy

Osei Kofi- The Wizardry dribbler cum scorer

Rev. Osei Kofi was widely known for his wizardry dribbling and his efficient goalscoring rate. In the history of Ghanaian football history, only four players were endowed with the football talent of Osei Kofi- James Adjei, Baba Yara, Aggrey Fyn and Abedi Pele to some extent.

Ghana has produced several effective dribblers such as James Adjei, Baba Yara, Aggrey Fyn, Kwame Adarkwa, Mohammed Salisu, Osei Kofi Mohammed Polo, Abedi Pele, Odartey Lamptey, Awudu Issaka, etc.

However very few were able to establish themselves as creators as well as scorers’ goals like Osei Kofi.

#left264::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

Baba Yara and to some extent Aggrey Fyn and Abedi Pele were able to calf that niche for themselves during their peak as footballers.

Aggrey Fyn had a great football season when he bagged over 30 league goals to inspire Hearts of Oak to the 1961/62 league triumph, but he wasn’t a consistent goal-getter for Hasaacas, Hearts of Oak and Real Republicans, which were the clubs that he had spells with.

Osei Kofi’s goal-scoring ability was legendary, especially for a player who was noted for his extraordinary dribble and passing abilities.

The secret behind Osei Kofi’s wizardry dribbles: The ‘Socks Theory’

Rev Osei Kofi is arguably the greatest dribbler Ghana has ever produced.

He has disclosed that he became a master dribbler because he adopted a practice of using the colours of his opponents’ socks to go pass them with ease.

He explained that he looked down and it gave him the edge to use the socks of his opponents to dribble them to create space in front of the goal area.

“Amadu Akuse (Osei Kofi’s senior teammate at Hearts of Oak) was one of the most experienced players I have ever met. When he is playing or you are playing with him, he doesn’t raise his head but when he gives a pass it goes to the person. So, I just one day went to senior Amadu and asked why he always looked down. How do you see your players as you give them the correct passes? Amadu Akuse said he uses the hose (socks). It was a perfect answer,” Rev. Osei Kofi told Pulse Ghana.

#left272::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

“So, I started and started putting my head down and it gave me a different dimension altogether. When I look down, I see legs and I use the hose (socks) to dribble. As Amadu Akuse told me when he looked down, he uses the hose (socks) to pass, I also used the hose to pass and I got two points there”.

Accolades and endorsements

Great sportsmen have always invariably bartered their real names for pet ones dubbed them by their admirers. Some of these names are romantic, while others signify barbarism or brutal strength or anything under the sun depending upon the nature and the characteristic of the individual player concerned.

Ghanaian football fans and writers idolize their favourite players and they call them by all kinds of names to shower praises on them after every magnificent display. Exceptional players are mostly nicknamed after their style of play or after another great player

Osei Kofi was among the first of the many Ghanaian football greats to acquire several nicknames, [perhaps after every good game he earned a new accolade).

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Osei Kofi- The two ‘Show Boys’ in Ghanaian history

The first President of the Republic of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah was nicknamed ‘Show Boy’. People believed he could do great and amazing stuff during his days as Prime Minister to when he was elected as President.

In the days of Nkrumah, it was very difficult for any other individual to share the same accolade with him. It is understood that the skipper of the 1963 Black Stars Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) winning team Aggrey Fyn once declined to be called ‘Osagyefo’, which was Nkrumah’s title for fear of sharing it with the then President of the West African country.

#left280::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

However, when Osei Kofi emerged as a Ghanaian football icon, fans, connoisseurs of the game could help it from calling Osei Kofi ‘Show Boy’ due to his ability to do mindboggling stuff with the ball.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was probably proud to share the same title with Osei Kofi, as he gave him the entertainment bit like an amazing dribbler in addition to the goals. And what else could a President who used football as a tool for African unity wish for?

Aside from ‘Show Boy’ Osei earned the nickname the Wizardry dribbler. His ability to weave through a forest of legs with ease to the delight of football journalist and fans.

The rest of the nicknames Osei Kofi earned during his prime were ‘The Maestro’, ‘Little Maestro’, before Abedi Pele, the three times African Footballer of the Year.

Furthermore, Osei Kofi also got pet names like Doctor, Nimble-footed, Nimble dribbler.

Legendary writer Joe Aggrey described him as the Little Soccer Wonder, while former Graphic Sports editor Addo Twum described Osei Kofi as the Dancing Feet.

Renowned former Editor of Graphic Sports and Asante Kotoko Ken Bediako who has been active in sports journalism since the 1960s described Osei Kofi as the ‘Dribbling Magician’ following his yeoman’s display in the Africa Club Champions Cup game against Kabwe Warrior.

The one who is now popular for the title the Dribbling Magician is ‘Mohammed Polo,’ another great player to have graced the game. However, Osei Kofi had earned that title years before, but journalist amplified on his accolade as the Wizardry dribbler which was one of the first titles he earned in his early days.

#left288::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

Osei Kofi was also nicknamed Master Schemer, Master-Brain, Master Dribbler and even during the twilight of his career. He was called the Living Legend by sports (unlike cliché of footballers being called all manner of names that gives a negative impression when nearing retirement).

Kidd Darko, Daily Graphic Reporter described Osei Kofi as Architect-In-Chief, as he scored the only goal of the match against Dwarfs coupled with a man of the match display.

An epitome of Ghanaian brand of football

Osei Kofi was a genius dribbler and could retain possession as long as he wishes and that is the original style of Ghanaian football.

“Ghana’s brand of football is called Agro Nana. We like to keep the ball to ourselves. We got to know that when we keep the ball to ourselves the one who is searching the ball gets tired easily,” Osei said.

Per the narration of many football writers, Osei Kofi was likened to a football god during his heydays.

He was an embodiment of the game football and journalist were sometimes short of words to describe him.

Osei Kofi was a soccer exhibitionist and he was a symbol of the Ghanaian brand of football.

#left296::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

This was the description of Kidd Darko a Daily Graphic Reporter.

“And perhaps never in the destiny of Asante Kotoko has one man changed a failed and gloomy hour into one of glory as comparable to what Osei Kofi did yesterday (Patronage Sainte Anne of Congo Brazzaville)

“Ghana’s ‘George Best’- Osei Kofi

“The One-Man Symphony Orchestra”

Fans favourite

Osei Kofi became a cult hero for both club and country. Ghanaian football fans loved him as a way to pay him back for his contribution to the game.

A supporter wrote after Kotoko’s 1-0 win over CARA when Osei Kofi was even in the twilight of his career craving for him.

“As an ardent supporter of the great club my observation of Kotoko during the match was that the attack needed a brilliant dribbler in the calibre of Osei Kofi who could split the defence to enable the striker drive home the goals that were badly needed”.

#left304::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

“Osei has the ability and the experience to split any stubborn defence when he featured for the reserve side against Hearts of Oak in Accra recently.

“I hope that if these changes are affected by the handlers, Kotoko can return from the epic 2nd leg in Brazzaville victorious”.

Recognition

In the 1960s he received a special letter from Dr. Kwmae Nkrumah in recognition of his contribution to football.

And in 1977 on the 20th Independence Anniversary celebration, the then Head of State of the Republic of Ghana Ignatius Kutu Acheampong honoured Osei Kofi with the order of Volta (Grand Medal Division, Civil Division), ` which is the highest award of the land (Ghana).

The section of the certificate signed by Ignatius Kutu Acheampong reads.

“You played with the Black Stars which won the 1963 Africa Cup of Nations. You were the brain behind the Black Stars team which beat Nigeria for the first time in Lagos in 1965.

“When the Black Stars successfully defended the African Cup of Nations in Tunis, you were in the team. Such your brilliant achievements in soccer that you were voted the Footballer of the Year in 1965 and maintained the envious title for three consecutive years, again becoming the first and only Ghanaian soccer player who has so far achieved this illustrious honour.

#left312::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

“You were acclaimed as “Goal King” for Asante Kotoko Football Club for six consecutive seasons and the skipper of the Club when it won the African Club Champions Cup in 1970/1971.

“For this achievement in and contribution made to the improvement of soccer in the country, the Republic of Ghana honours, you, Reverend Osei Kofi, with a state award of a Grand Medal (Civil Division),”

Is Reverend Osei Kofi, the greatest Ghanaian footballer of all-time?

There has been an endless debate as to who Ghana’s greatest player of all-time is. The modern-day sports enthusiasts believe it is Abedi Pele, while those who followed Ghanaian football with keen interest in the 1950s and 1960s rate Baba Yara and Osei Kofi.

Those in the 1970s and 1980s make a case for Mohammed Polo and Abdul Razak ‘Golden Boy’.

Some believe that a holistic comparison of players that played in different generations is untenable since it is unfair to do that.

The argument mostly goes against those who played their football several years back, especially in Ghana that there are no footages to support one’s claims.

However, with the availability of data, commentaries, a good research will serve as a guide to inform one’s judgement on the subject.

#left320::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

Ghana over the years have produced talented players such as James Adjei, CK Gyamfi, Aggrey Fyn, Baba Yara, Osei Kofi, Ibrahim Sunday, Mohammed Polo, Abdul Razak, Abedi Pele, etc.

The above-named players could do a lot of magic with the ball and they gave fans much entertainment during their heydays.

However, being talented is a means to an end and not the end itself.

After a careful study and review of Ghanaian football history, I could say that Ghana’s all-time best player is a straight battle between Abedi Pele and Rev. Osei Kofi.

When thematic areas such as individual brilliance, team work, titles, individual awards and consistency which are usually taken into consideration as factor to settle the best player debate.

Baba Yara was very talented but his football career suffered a major setback when he had to retire during his peak because of an accident which paralysed him, so in terms of achievements, he comes no where close to the likes of Osei Kofi and Abedi Pele

Reverend Osei Kofi in an interview recently said that he has contributed more to Ghana football than Abedi Pele Ayew, the three times African Footballer of the Year.

His assertion generated heated argument in the Ghanaian media space.

#left328::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

However, undoubtedly, he has contributed more to the success story of Ghanaian football than the Maestro, when his achievement is juxtaposed with that of the former Olympique Marseille player.

Both won the African Cup of Nations with Ghana, but while Osei Kofi was the face of the Black Stars AFCON winning team of Ghana in 1965, Abedi Pele was just a member of the 1982 AFCON winning team.

At club level Osei Kofi was the skipper of the Kotoko team that won the 1970 Champions Cup and

Contributed immensely as the Porcupine Warriors finished as runners-up in three finals in continental football (two of which they should have been champions, if not the fact that they were handed a raw deal AFC (now CAF)), while Abedi Pele was instrumental when Olympique Marseille won the UEFA Champions League in 1993 and before then they had placed 2nd in 1991. The only thing here is that the European club championship is rated higher and more competitive than the African version.

On the individual level, Abedi Pele was voted the African Footballer of the Year on three occasions, while Osei Kofi had none, but it should be noted that the former Kotoko skipper played the best of his football in the era when the African Footballer of the Year award hadn’t been instituted by the France Football Magazine.

In 1965, he was widely rated as the best footballer on the African continent, so as in 1966 and 1967. Osei Kofi could have won the award on three consecutive years like Abedi Pele Ayew. Even when the award was first instituted in 1970, he was named the 7th best player in Africa. He should curse his stars for missing out on the award, because he failed to participate in the 1970 Africa Cup of Nations held in Sudan. The story would have been different, if he had been part of the Black Stars team that finished runners-up in the 1970 AFCON.

Another factor that went against him was that he got injured enroute to Kotoko African Champions Cup triumph in 1970, which the final took place in January, 1971.

Honours

#left336::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

Club

Hearts of Oak

League: 1961/1962

Asante Kotoko

League:1963/1964, 1965, 1967/1968, 1969, 1972, 1975

Fa Cup: 1976

Africa Club Champions Cup

Champion: 1970

#left344::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

Losing finalist: 1967, 1971, 1973

International

Africa Cup of Nations: 1963*, 1965

Individual

Ghana’s Sportsman of the Year: 1965, 1969

Ghana’s best player: 1965, 1966, 1967, 1969

Asante Kotoko top scorer: 6 seasons

Kotoko’s top scorer in thwe Africa Champions Cup: 12 goals

#left352::before{ content: “AD”; font-size: .6em; text-align: center; display: block; color: #bfbbbb7d; }

AFCON Top Scorer: 1965

African Footballer of the Year: 7th (Maiden edition in 1970)

Participation:

The only Ghanaian player to feature in three Olympic games- 1964, 1968, 1972

Award: Order of Volta:

About the author

Webby

Chuka is an experienced certified web developer with an extensive background in computer science and 18+ years in web design &development. His previous experience ranges from redesigning existing website to solving complex technical problems with object-oriented programming. Very experienced with Microsoft SQL Server, PHP and advanced JavaScript. He loves to travel and watch movies.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Advertisement Ad-600

Breaking News List