Wife of the late Sir Cecil Jones Attuquayefio, Madam Sophia Nanka-Bruce says she and the entire family feel empty at the loss of the greatest coach Ghana has ever had.
Speaking in an interview with The Finder at their family house at North Kaneshie yesterday, hours after his demise, Madam Nanka-Bruce described her husband as a gem who will be forever missed.
She said since they met and got married, Jones had filled their lives with happiness, and wondered how life would be without her husband around.
“I can only take refuge from God because my husband was suffering. At a time he said he did not like his sick bed because he was being treated like a prisoner,” she said.
She added that he was a loving, caring and blunt husband who will always tell you the truth no matter how bitter it was.
According to her, one of the joyous moments during his coaching days was when Jones drew with Nigeria in 2002, because all odds were against him. Playing a local team against a national team was a very big task for him.
“After the game I told him, ‘Congratulations darling. You have done it and I know you will move to higher heights,’” she added.
Other family members shared their views on the death of the only ‘Sir’ in Ghana’s football.
His son, Calvin Bruce-Attuquayefio also said he always joined his dad at the dressing room and sat in the team bus of Accra Hearts of Oak whenever the team was going to train.
His son revealed that about two weeks ago, his dad, on his sick bed, told him to tell his siblings and family members not to cry because he was going to be fine.
“He said we should not cry and asked whether we want to see Sir Cecil tossing in bed or Sir Cecil on the touchline,” he said, and added, “I prefer to have that touchline memory but it is the good God who gives and takes, and he is our refuge,” Calvin said.
Head of the family, Naakpe Attuquayefio mentioned that Jones Attuquayefio battled with the sickness for a long time, and around 2:30am yesterday he passed away.
“We are sitting here today and are devastated by the news because he made the name of our family popular through his football days till his death. The Attuquayefio family is a family of footballers, but Sir Jones played more than everybody,” he said.
He described the coach as a fun-loving person who does not harbour bitterness.
He said Jones started playing at a time when one of his brothers started a football team called Liverpool Breakers, but he chose to play for another team, which made his mother and some of his siblings upset with him because he was a good footballer and they wanted to form a formidable team.
“Jones’ name with football will never depart. Just by the mention of his name you know football is at stake. He has left a mark with football and even received the Order of the Volta Award by the then government, and that was even enough motivation for his children,” the family head noted.
“He has been battling with this cancer sickness, but just last week it became very serious. He was taken to Korle-Bu at a time I wasn’t feeling well. I visited him once and the information I receive all the time was that he is doing well,” his sister, Mariam Attuquayefio, said.
“I was coming from the bathroom when someone came to tell me to take it easy because there is a bad news. Though I stay in the same house with Jones, I heard the news on the radio.
“It is very painful news but all we can say is that we give it to God. Just recently he requested that his favourite food be prepared for him and we all teased him with it,” she revealed.
1962 – 1965: A member of Ghana’s students’ international football team and at the same time a member of the Ghana Academicals team.
1962 – 1963: Played for Accra Standfast F/C, a first division team
1963 – 1965: Ghana Republicans F/C
1966 – 1974: Accra Great Olympics F/C
1965 – 1974: A member of the team that won the African Cup of Nations in 1965 and was also among the squads that participated in the finals of the African Cup in 1968 and 1970.
1982 – 1984: He rose through the ranks of the Ghana Football Association (GFA) to the position of Vice-Chairman of the association.
1995 – 1997: Deputy General Secretary, GFA.
1974 – 1984: Started with Accra Great Olympics, where he was the head coach.
1985 – 1987: Assistant coach of the senior national team, the Black Stars.
1988 – 1990: Coached Okwawu United, then later moved to Cote d’Ivoire to handle Stade Abidjan.
1990 – 1995: Returned to manage Goldfields Football Club and Academy. During his tenure, the Obuasi team dominated the local scene, winning the Premier League three times on the run.
1996 – Assisted Coach Sam Arday to take the National Under-23 soccer team, the Black Meteors, to the Atlanta Olympic Games, where they won bronze medal.
1998 – 1999: Coached the National Under-17 team, the Black Starlets, to win the African Under-17 Cup in Guinea and followed it up to win bronze at the World Under-17 tournament in New Zealand in 1999.
1998 – 2001: Engaged by Hearts of Oak, and assisted the team to win four League championships and two Knockout trophies.
2000 – Won the CAF Champions League to give Hearts its first and only continental title in their 93 years of existence. In the same year, he was given an additional responsibility of coaching the senior national team, the Black Stars, through the Japan/Korea 2002 World Cup qualifying series.
2001 – He again chalked another first in the annals of Ghana soccer when he led Hearts to beat Zamalek to win the CAF Super Cup at the Kumasi Sports Stadium. The same year he was fired as coach of the Black Stars after a string of poor results.
2002 – Left Hearts of Oak and joined Dansoman-based Liberty Professionals briefly.
2003 – He was named coach of the Benin national team, the Squirrels, and in that same year qualified them to their first Africa Nation’s Cup finals.
2004 – Led Benin to their first Africa Nations Cup appearance in Tunisia. After the tournament, he left Benin for Ghana, claiming that the Benin FA had failed to fulfil its financial obligations to him as stipulated in the contract.
1973 – Member of the Order of Volta (Civil Division Ghana)
2001 – Was named the African Coach of the year for 2000 for leading Hearts to win their first continental trophy and also won the SWAG Coach of the year award.
He was again awarded the Nana Kumi Gyamfi’s Best Coach Award for guiding Hearts to win the league for the fifth time on the trot at the Star/GFA Gala Awards Night, 2001.