From the town at the centre of the first independent nation in sub-Saharan Africa emerged a man whose star shone across pitches around the world; pitches which size was 100 yards and 130 yards and the width not less than 50 yards and not more than 100 yards. The Kintampo born man weaved passes together like the beautiful kente from the wings of football pitches he played on to thrill the thousands that filled stadia to watch him work.
‘The King of Wingers’ ensured that he either scored or his beautiful cut-ins from the wings created goal scoring opportunities for teams he played for. Baba Yara always wanted to score anytime he emerged from the tunnels of the stadia he played in including Kumasi Sports Stadium which was named after him 36 years after his death.
The journey to fame for the man who was born on 12th October, 1936 started in 1950 when he became a horse jockey player. Five years after that, he signed for Kumasi Asante Kotoko and legend have it that, he became the greatest footballer of his generation. Legendary sports commentator, Joe Lartey in a documentary produced by Head of Sports at Atinka TV, Saddick Adams (Sports Obama), #UntoldGOAT argues that death robbed him of the Ballon D’Or, the highest individual football award.
Joe Lartey’s view is supported by C.K Gyamfi who is described as the father of Ghana football:
“If I had to pick the Greatest Ghanaian footballer I ever saw, it would be hard not to pick him. A performer whose feet governed the ball with an air of audacious autocracy. It had to be him. He was special. It is no wonder he became, and remained a favourite of the fans from the first day he wore the Ghana shirt.”
Dogo Moro, a former defender of Kotoko also described Baba Yara as one who could easily be recognized as a great player from afar. Wilberforce Mfum, the man who is on record to have scored a goal that tore the net around a goal post into two said the light skinned Baba Yara was so skillful that it was difficult to dispossess of the ball. He was so talented to the extent that he had become a household name in cities where Kotoko travelled to play football matches by the time he turned 20.
The skillful man who was a priceless asset for Kumasi Asante Kotoko was plucked away to join Real Republicans – the team of Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. The porcupine warriors true to their nature of never giving up fought back but this time lost out to the political power of the day.
Angry Kotoko fans warned Baba Yara not to step a foot in Kumasi again but he defiled the threat and returned to the Garden City in 1962, this time donning the jersey of the Osagyefo club. He scored in a 3 all draw game leading the Kotoko fans to give him a standing ovation.
He scored two and assisted four during a famous match between Ghana and Nigeria in 1955 to ensure that Ghana put seven goals past Nigeria at the Accra Sports Stadium. The quest to put more goals into the net made connoisseurs of the game to vote him Ghana’s Footballer of the year on two occasions. Records indicate that Baba Yara scored 49 goals for the national side.
He enjoyed the beautiful game and earned countless admirers from the West African sub-region due to the splendid display from him on the pitch. His love for the beautiful game however ended tragically when he was part of the Republicans team that was involved in an accident at Kpeve in the Volta Region.
He was flown outside the country for medical treatment but the beautiful talent returned home on a stretcher and lived the rest of his life in a wheel chair.
“He was a maestro…Baba Yara was a maestro…,” Joe Lartey summed up the life of the King of Wingers.
Watch the full documentary below:
Source: Ghana | Atinkaonline.com | KWAKU NTI