A few years ago, ‘Sir’ Cecil Jones Attuquayefio, one of Ghana’s most decorated coaches at club level, was dominating the headlines for his feats that put the country on the continental platform. However, the national hero has been totally forgotten after having suffered a throat cancer that has forced him to cut short his career as a coach. For those who have not seen him for a while it would be difficult to make frail looking Attuquayefio out in his recent state of health. The crippling grip of throat cancer precariously oozes health out of him with each passing day. His legendary achievements include being the only man to have won the domestic treble with Accra Hearts of Oak, and going ahead to win the CAF Champions League and the CAF Super Cup in the year 2000. The former Accra Hearts of Oak and Liberty Professionals coach was a member of the Black Stars team that won the African Cup of Nations in Tunisia in 1965. ‘Sir’ Attuquayefio, as he is affectionately called, also qualified the Benin national team for the first time in their history to the 2004 continental showpiece. But he is now a direly sick man. He has been battling throat cancer for the past two years and has so far undergone three medical operations. The authorities appear to have turned a blind eye to his plight, virtually ignoring the man who returned Ghana to the African soccer heights after a long absence. Unlike Attuquayefio, who told The Globe newspaper in an interview at his residence in Accra that he has had no support from the nation in battling his ailment, the situation is the opposite for some of his contemporaries who are also battling cancer. For example, former England and Newcastle manager, Sir Bobby Robson battled cancer for several years and was not forgotten by both club and country. He received support from all sectors due to his good work and commitment to the sport. Now a pale shadow of himself, a rather frail Attuquayefio welcomed the newspaper into his Kaneshie residence. He had just finished his lunch that Saturday afternoon. He could only manage a feeble handshake with reporter Nana Afrane Asante. The former coach looked weak and spoke with difficulty. He kept shifting about in his chair to ease the pangs of pain that struck his nerves intermittently without warning. Virtually every sentence he spoke was accompanied by a painful cough. “It is unfortunate that in football, we do not have any future,” he said, adding that “My main source of surviving is my own personal savings which I was able to save during my coaching career. “Liberty Professionals Football Club has been very instrumental in paying for my hospital bills, but the majority of the bill is borne by me. If anybody will offer me support, I will receive it wholeheartedly but I wouldn’t ask anybody for anything because I think that I served my country, I served clubs and if they deem it fit or necessary to offer me any support I will be willing to have it but for now there hasn’t been anything. ” The flag bearer of the main opposition New Patriotic Party, Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo, who was a childhood friend of Attuquayefio visited the former coach at his residence earlier in the year, to wish him speedy recovery from the ailment that has kept him at home for some time. Nana Addo at the time donated some items and cash to him. “I developed other complications recently and the medications given to me were very expensive,” he complained. “What I have realised is that most of the medications I receive are not covered by the National Health Insurance. My treatment is routine which makes the situation very difficult. ” He praised the late Alhaji Sly Tetteh, describing him as “one man who showed so much care. ” “Alhaji Tetteh aided me consistently with my hospital bills. He was here with me on the Friday before he died on Saturday. He visited me more than anybody else I can think of and was more concerned with my problem than anybody I can think of. “He invested so much in my hospital bills and it came as a great shock when I heard about his death,” a sad Attuquayefio said with his head bowed down. “Sly was a man of vision and I know his spirit will live with the team and provoke the interest of the team.
Source: The Globe