Some of Ghana’s eminent football stars (retired and active), coaches, administrators, government officials and supporters of the two traditional clubs of Accra, Hearts of Oak and Great Olympics, are expected to pay their last respects to the late Sir Cecil Jones Attuquayefio, whose mortal remains will lie in state at the forecourt of the State House this morning before interment later in the day at the Awudome Cemetery.
The late Attuquayefio, arguably one of the nation’s most prominent soccer icons, died on May 10 this year after a protracted ailment.
He was 70.
He was a football colossus who in fondly remembered for his extraordinary exploits as a footballer, a coach par excellence and an administrator who once served as the vice-president of the Ghana Football Association (GFA).
A member of the Black Stars team that won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1965, he also played for Accra Great Olympics and inspired the club to win their only league titles in 1972 and 1974.
However, it was his exploits as a coach which set him apart. He handled clubs such as Olympics, Okwawu United, Goldfields (now AshantiGold), Stade Club of Abidjan, Accra Hearts of Oak, Liberty Professionals and the national team of the Republic of Benin which he guided to qualify and participate in the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Tunisia.
He also handled the Black Starlets, Black Satellites, Black Meteors and Black Stars and in the process played an important role in grooming some of the nation’s finest players in the last three decades, including Stephen Appiah, Michael Essien, Asamoah Gyan, Ishmael Addo,Sammy Adjei and Sulley Muntari.
The crowning moment of his coaching career was when he was honoured by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) as 2000 African Coach of the Year after he guided Hearts to win the 2000 CAF Champions League, followed by the 2001 African Super Cup and the 2004 CAF Confederation Cup titles, in addition to four Premier League titles and two FA Cups.
Fittingly, the celebrated tactician was honoured by Hearts as Coach of the Century during the club’s Centenary celebrations four years ago.
In 1973, Attuquayefio also received the nation’s highest honour for his exploits after he was conferred with the Member of the Volta (Civil Division) by the Head of State.