Multiple legendary sporting personalities passed away in 2020. In Ghana and abroad, some of the most iconic figures in sports died and as the year winds down, we look at their legacy in individual and team sports.
We begin our listicle from home where the passing of two former greats of the Black Stars in a space of 48 hours shocked the entire nation.
Opoku Afriyie passed away on Sunday, March 29, 2020, and hardly had the football community come to terms with the death when it was announced that another legend Kwasi Owusu had died less than 24 hours later.
Afriyie was revered in Ghana for his brace that gave Ghana a historic third African Cup of Nation title in 1978. The former Asante Kotoko forward starred as Ghana beat Uganda 2-0 to lift the title in Accra.
He was also in the Black Stars team that won the 1982 AFCON title, and Ghana’s fourth, in Libya.
Nicknamed ‘Bayie’, meaning wizard in his native Akan language, he was the leading marksman of his boyhood club, Asante Kotoko. He was crowned top scorer in the Ghanaian top-flight in 1979 and 1981.
Later in his career, he did the unthinkable at the time as he crossed over to eternal rivals, Hearts of Oak becoming one of the first players to feature for Ghana’s two most successful clubs.
After retirement, he served as Team Manager of Asante Kotoko, and Welfare Officer of the Ghana senior national team for some time.
Yesterday was terrible. One of Ghana's greatest goalscorers, Opoku Afriyie 'Bayie' passed on
This morning, Ghana's 2nd all-time goalscorer behind Asamoah Gyan, Kwesi Wusu 'Power House' is confirmed dead.
Kwesi was Black Stars captain for 9 years
Two legends gone in 2 days. RIP pic.twitter.com/1BQS97WWvX
— Saddick Adams (@SaddickAdams) March 30, 2020
One of the most lethal forwards in the history of Ghana football, Kwasi Owusu, passed away on Monday (30 March 2020) in Sunyani. He was 72.
Nicknamed ‘Powerhouse’, he captained the Black Stars at the 1970 Africa Cup of Nations, as Ghana lost 1-0 to host Sudan in the final, scoring three goals during the tournament.
He is fondly remembered for scoring nine goals in the 15-1 aggregate win over Niger in the qualifiers.
He also featured at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Owusu was Ghana’s top scorer at the international level with 36 goals, a record which was only broken by Asamoah Gyan a few years ago.
Loyal and humble, they don't make many men like him anymore.
Sharp and prolific, they don't make many strikers like him anymore.
Today, Bofoakwa Tano celebrates our legend, Kwasi Owusu, a former Black Stars player and captain. pic.twitter.com/lpZ199eT1b
— Bofoakwa Tano FC (@bofoakwatano) March 30, 2020
At club level, he featured for Tano Bofoakwa, currently in the second-tier of Ghana football, where he remains a legend.
Eight juvenile footballers die in ghastly accident
Ghana football was thrown into a state of mourning and sorrow when the news broke that eight juvenile footballers playing for a team named African Vision FC and based in Offinso had lost their lives in a gory accident on the Kumasi-Offinso road.
The accident occurred on Saturday, September 19, 2020, on the Offinso river when the bus carrying the Juvenile footballers was heading to Offinso from Afrancho after the juvenile footballers had undergone a registration for the District Juvenile League.
The accident happened after the driver lost control of his vehicle which then plunged into the Offinso River causing the death of the aspiring footballers. The lifeless bodies were recovered from the river as people in the nearby towns rushed to the scene to offer their help.
Former bantamweight world titleholder Alfred Kotey died of an undisclosed illness in the Bronx, New York, in June 2020. He was 52.
Kotey, who was born in Bukom, Ghana, on June 3, 1968, represented his country in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and in 1994 became Ghana’s fifth world champion when he won a unanimous decision over Puerto Rico’s Rafael Del Valle to claim the WBO bantamweight world title at London’s famed York Hall.
One of Ghana’s illustrious football administrators, Yakubu Moro died this year. The Berekum Arsenal owner passed away after suffering a stroke in October 2020. He died at the Ridge Hospital in Accra after he had been on admission for about a week.
Maradona’s death brought Argentina to a standstill and caused a wave of grief in his adopted home of Naples. He brought joy to the southern Italian city by leading unfashionable Napoli to two Serie A titles and the 1989 UEFA Cup.
The passing of Maradona, who dragged Argentina to glory at the 1986 World Cup where he scored the ‘Goal of the Century’ against England – as well as the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal, led to three days of national mourning in his home country.
Bryant was killed in January alongside his 13-year-old daughter in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles that also took the lives of seven other people. LA Lakers icon Bryant was a five-time NBA champion in a career that began in 1996 straight out of a high school.
He was a two-time Olympic gold medallist, helping spark the US squad to titles in 2008 and 2012.
Former Senegal, Fulham, and Portsmouth midfielder Papa Bouba Diop died on November 29, 2020. He was 42.
Diop made 129 appearances in the Premier League and also had spells in England with West Ham United and Birmingham City.
He played for Senegal at the 2002 World Cup, scoring the winner in the tournament’s opening game as his country beat France 1-0.