By Herbert BOAKYE-YIADOM
Call him the Pele or Maradona of that century but arguably he has been one of Ghana’s most decorated footballers. Even though he played in a generation that was handicapped in terms of publicity his exploits is acclaimed worldwide by those who witnessed and watched. Acclaimed as the dribble wizard and many other names Osei Kofi was just a masterpiece.
I was honored to have interviewed this great legend at his office here in Accra. Rev Osei Kofi holds a senior position at the Retired National Football Association of Ghana (RENFAG).
This interview was carried out to exclusively reveal the football life of this legend arguably considered as one of Ghana’s greatest and also reveal more insights into the origination of football in Ghana.
Rev.Osei Kofi played for Accra Hearts of Oak, Kumasi Asante Kotoko and the senior national soccer team the. Black stars of Ghana during his player days. This is what transpired between us.
H.B represents (Herbert Boakye) and R.O.K represents (Rev Osei Kofi)
H.B:-Date of Birth?
R.O.K:-Born in 1940.
H.B:-Education level attained?
R.O.K:-Elementary school and Lord’s ministry
H.B.:-What’s his view on been considered as one of the greatest Black stars players in Ghana?
R.O.K:-I cannot mention any name to be the best footballer in Ghana unless those who watched me.However I acknowledge Aggrey Finn as one of the best Ghana footballers Ghana has ever seen.
H.B:-Who is the best captain ever?
R.O.K:- Aggrey Finn is the best captain Ghana has ever had this was in relation to the comment made recently by the Ghana Football Association president Kwasi Nyantakyi who stated that Stephen Appiah was the all-time best captain Ghana has ever had .He said this emphatically and also the only Osagyefo (saviour)in Ghana football was Aggrey Finn who performed a miracle at the Accra Sports stadium which earned him the title.
H.B:-Which head of state has helped developed sports in the country?
R.O.K:- Dr.Kwame Nkrumah is the only head of state to have sowed a seed to develop sports in the country.
H.B:-The Origin of the Black Stars?
R.O.K:-Dr.Kwmae Nkrumah was the originator of the Black Stars of Ghana. The present Black stars was called Gold Coast eleven. IN 1959 he gave the name the Black stars of Ghana. He alongside with Ohene Djan formed the Republicans to serve as a back up to the Black stars. The Republicans was also known as Osagyefo Own Club.
H.B:-What your view about the non-selection of local players in to the Black star?
R.O.K:-And he quoted what Avram Grant said in response to a question asked as why he is not staying to watch our league and he said our league is not good that is why am not staying to watch. Most of our local players in recent times will not make up squad for selection in his era and he wholeheartedly supported Avram Grant due to the performance exhibited by both clubs.He continued by saying he watched Accra Hearts of Oak vrs Ash Gold play in the FCP Ghana Premier league and it was just like academicals which was by then a student’s team and even those in academy by that time such as Late Jones Attuquayefio and co played better than this current crop of players.
H.B:-Tell us about the match between Real Madrid and the Black stars?
R.O.K:-There was a controversy when Real Madrid had to play either the Republicans or the Black Stars. This was as a result of both teams belonging to Osagyefo Dr.Kwame Nkrumah who brought Madrid down to Ghana for the game. However the Black Stars won the mandate to play Madrid since it had a stronger side than the Republicans. Madrid legends such as Puskas,De-stafano, featured in that game. Real Madrid at that time where European Champions. The match ended 3-3 and I featured in that game as well. I came on as a substitute for Adarkwa and it was my first international match.
HB:-What’s your view on the exist of the Black Satellites from the Under -20 World cup?
R.O.K:-We were older than the Malians, and were disgraced. We lacked tactically against them.
J.A.H: Who will you opt for as the best football administrator in Ghana?
R.O.K: One of the best administrators of football in Ghana was Ohene Djan, he was sent to Russia to study the Russian system and introduced that system into football adminsitration here in Ghana.
HB:-Why are our football legends ignored in Ghana?
R.O.K:- It’s because the Ghana Football Association do not respect us even though we have won the Nations cup four times, won two myself for Ghana in 1963 and 1965.He spoke of his ordeal where he had to go the 2010 World cup through a sponsorship by a Nigerian sports firm. If not he would have been ignored by his home country.
“I had a chat with Michael Essien who admitted he didn’t know me but has heard my name and also same with Sulley Muntari who also plainly admitted he didn’t know me.This is a country we leave in where upcoming footballers do not even know their heroes”.
R.O.K:-Golden boot award in 1965 in Tunis and also Leadership and dribbling legend award
In 1968 when Kotoko toured Britain, I scored Gordon Barnes who was one of the best goal keepers in England.
“After Kotoko toured Britain in 1968 my performance attracted many offers from clubs which was about 30,000 pounds. However I rejected the offer and stayed at Kotoko. As I rejected the offer I was promised of a lot of things however those who promised me died within three years”.
Carlos Alberto Perrirera ex coach of Brazil first assignment after graduation from University as a graduate was the Black Stars in 1968,and he stated that Rev.Osei Kofi was unlucky to be born in Africa as his football potential could have been compared to that of Pele and others if he was outside the continent this he told to Fiifi Banson when he met him at the 2010 FIFA World cup.He stated that the Brazilians have Pele and others but did not have a player like me.
H.B:-When did you end your career?
R.O.K:-In 197o A fatal accident he had ended his career when he crushed his bicycle into a vehicle and had a major operation, thus after his recovery he couldn’t be the same player he was before as my pace had reduced drastically.
After my football career I went to the Lord’s ministry that’s where I earned the name Reverend.
Thanks to Rev.Osei Kofi for the opportunity granted to myself and Joel Abeiku Hammond and we are really honoured to have had this interview with you.