Legendary Ghanaian footballers in the early years of independence

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Ghana is a football nation and one of the best in Africa having won the African Cup of Nations four times and also appearing at the World Cup on four occasions. So many great footballers have donned the famous Black Stars jersey over the years and we list five of those including the legendary Baba Yara, Edward Acquah, and Wilberforce Mfum.

Baba Yara

Baba Yara - Legendary Ghanaian football

Born Osman Seidu at Kintampo in 1936, Baba Yara was a Ghanaian footballer who played as a winger for the Black Stars, Kumasi Asante Kotoko, and Real Republicans between 1955 and 1963. He started out as a horse jockey player at the Accra Turf Club before getting signed by Kotoko in 1955. His bright career successes included winning the 1963 AFCON title with the Black Stars but that promise ended at just 26 years of age when he had spinal injuries while playing for Real Republicans against Volta Heroes of Kpando. Baba Yara was flown to England for treatment but came back home in a wheelchair and died six years later, on May 5 1969 at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. In 2005, Ghana’s national stadium in Kumasi was named after him, the Baba Yara Stadium.

Edward Kobina Acquah

Edward Acquah - Legendary Ghanaian football

Edward Acquah was a Ghanaian footballer who played as a forward for the Black Stars. He was born in Takoradi in 1935 and died in 2011 at the age of 76. Edward Acquah was part of the Ghana team at the 1964 Olympics where Ghana exited in the quarter-finals after a 5-1 defeat to the United Arab Republic. He scored two goals at the tournament; in the 1-1 draw against Argentina and the second of Ghana’s three goals in the 2-3 win over Japan. He played at the 1963 AFCON and scored four goals when Ghana won the tournament. He scored a brace against Ethiopia and another against Sudan as Ghana won the trophy for the first time in her debut appearance in the competition. He won the competition again in 1965 in Tunis. Aside from those achievements, Edward Acquah stands as one of Ghana’s best-ever strikers having transitioned from a goalkeeper to a striker while at Sekondi Eleven Wise before joining Real Republicans. He scored all of Ghana’s four goals when the Black Stars beat Blackpool 4-0 in Accra and scored two of the three against Real Madrid for Real Republicans.

Aggrey Fynn

Edward Jeff Aggrey Fynn was a Ghanaian midfielder who played for the Black Stars in the 1950s and 1960s. Born in Cape Coast in 1934, he was known for his excellent ball control and passing abilities and helped Ghana to win its first AFCON in 1963. He also played at the 1964 Summer Olympics alongside Edward Acquah and Wilberforce Mfum. Aggrey Fynn starred in the local league for Hearts of Oak and Real Republicans and is considered one of the best African midfielders of all time. He died in 2005.

Wilberforce Mfum

Wilberforce Mfum - Legendary Ghanaian football

Born in 1934, Wilberforce Mfum is a former Ghanaian forward who played for the Black Stars in the 1950s and 1960s. A dribbling expert with great goal-scoring abilities, he was a member of the Black Stars team that won the 1963 AFCON trophy on home soil with him scoring two goals in the final. Wilberforce Mfum played at the 1964 Olympics and scored Ghana’s only goal in the 5-1 defeat against United Arab Republic (Egypt) when Ghana exited the competition in the quarter-finals. He scored 26 goals for Ghana and also represented Asante Kotoko, Baltimore Bays, Ukrainian SC, and Ukrainian Nationals as well as New York Cosmos.

Kwasi Owusu

Kwasi Owusu - Legendary Ghanaian football

Kwasi Owusu, born in 1945 in Suyani was a Ghanaian footballer who played as a forward for the Black Stars. He died in 2020 at the age of 74. Kwasi Owusu, according to unverified reports, played over 130 matches for Ghana while scoring 36 goals though the official record is held by current Stars skipper Andre Ayew who amassed 113 appearances while playing at the World Cup in Qatar. He scored three goals as Ghana finished second behind Sudan in the 1970 AFCON.

In conclusion, these five Ghanaian footballers though not the only ones, made significant contributions to the growth and development of Ghana’s football in the early years of independence. They helped to establish Ghana as a force to be reckoned with in African football and inspired a new generation of footballers. Their legacy lives on in Ghana’s football history, and they will always be remembered as some of the greatest footballers to ever play for Ghana.

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