To be perfectly honest, writing the piece to eulogize the works of Cecil Jones Attuquayefio over two years ago, gave me the appetite to look at some of Ghana’s finest ever coaches and it was actually in the course of doing some research into what Attuquayefio achieved that I ended up speaking with Herbert Addo.
It was then that I realized that the former Ghana coach had also achieved so much and that is what is inspiring this article.
He began his coaching career with SS 74 in 1978 and was in charge until 1981 when the team was disbanded. After a short spell in charge of Fankobaa and Okwahu United, whom he took to Ghana’s top flight, he handled Sekondi Hasaacas and led the ‘Giants of the West’ to glory in the West African Football Union (WAFU) cup in 1982.
Some of his players that year, including the late Emmanuel Quarshie, Kwame Sampson, Kofi Abbrey and John Essien, were also members of the Black Stars team that won the African Nations Cup that year, with the late Sly Tetteh also a member of that all-conquering team.
He then moved to Kumasi Cornerstone in 1985 and two years later, with a squad that contained futue Asante Kotoko stars Frimpong Manso, Emmanuel Ampeah as well as Opoku Sampene, he won the WAFU Cup again.
It was also in 1987 that Herbert Addo, assisted by Anthony Adusei, led Ghana to its fifth consecutive West African Nations Cup victory with a 2-1 win over Liberia in Monrovia.
Addo tells me that the then Liberian head of state, Sergeant Samuel Doe tried to bribe Ghana in the final game.
“My captain at the time was Opoku Nti and he informed me that he had been approached by Sgt. Doe with a bribe offer of $70,000 to throw the match. In the end, we decided to ignore the offer and play to the best of our abilities, and we ended up winning 2-1.”
The team also had in its ranks the late Rauf Iddi, who was a stalwart in defence, as well as Okwahu United midfielder Alhaji Bello and Opoku Nti himself, who was in his final season with Asante Kotoko.
After a brief stint with Asante Kotoko, Herbert Addo moved to Gabon to coach Shell FC, where he won honours with the club.
He returned to Ghana to coach Ghapoha Readers, a side he guided to promotion to the Premier League.
He then joined Obuasi Goldfields in 1994 as an assistant to Jones Attuquayefio and took over the club in 1997, when he guided the team to the final of the inaugural CAF Champions League before a loss on penalties to Raja Casablanca denied him a chance at landing Africa’s biggest club prize.
He had moulded a top team with the likes of Agyemang Duah, Lawrence Adjei, Yaw Owusu, Joe Okyere and Togo goalkeeper Nibombe Wake.
After working with other clubs, he landed the Hearts of Oak job in 2002 and led the Phobians to the Premier League title. He went through the following season unbeaten in 30 games, but lost the title to Asante Kotoko because he had played too many draws.
Interestingly, Asante Kotoko looked at him as a possible replacement for Abdul Razak, who had led the Porcupine Warriors to their first league title in 10 years.
At the time, Asante Kotoko legend Malik Jabir was the acting Chief Executive and together with then Board member, Kwabena Kesse (Kessben), they were prepared to hand Addo a one year contract to co-coach Asante Kotoko with German Hans Kodric.
Unfortunately, because he coached Hearts of Oak the previous season, the other Board members kicked against his appointment and so the move to Asante Kotoko did not materialize.
After a spell outside the country, he returned to coach Pure Joy Stars, but with Asante Kotoko languishing in the relegation places in 2009, the then Alhaji Njie-led administration called him and he took over Asante Kotoko.
Addo then worked a minor miracle that saw the Porcupine Warriors mount an unlikely challenge for the Premier League title.
On match day 29, Asante Kotoko travelled to Obuasi to face relegation threatened Ashanti Gold and Addo tells me that external pressures led to a 2-1 defeat that effectively ended Kotoko’s title hopes.
“We had a better goal difference and we were neck and neck with Hearts of Oak. I was aiming to win the match to go two points clear of Hearts of Oak, but a lot of external influences were brought to bear on the game in order to save Ashanti Gold from being relegated. Eventually we lost the game 2-1 and even though Hearts of Oak drew 1-1 with Arsenal in Berekum, we knew that we had lost the title because we were now level with Hearts of Oak, who were ahead on head-to-head. I was disappointed with the turn of events because I really wanted to win the title with Kotoko.”
Addo then left Asante Kotoko and joined newly promoted Aduana Stars. With him was a full back named Godfred Saka, who had attended a justifier with Asante Kotoko and had been rejected.
He brought in experienced midfielder Emmanuel Allan and moulded the rest of the team there, with the likes of Stephen Adams brought in from Real Sportive and the likes of Johnson Adomah, Emmanuel Akuoko, captain Samuel Asiedu and Francis Larbi all in the team.
Addo, whose reputation for building teams with tight defences is legendary, then proceeded to guide Aduana Stars to an unlikely Premier League triumph, despite scoring only 19 goals.
What made this title even sweeter for Addo was that he won it by beating the team responsible for his exit from Asante Kotoko, Ashanti Gold on the very head-to-head rule that a year before would have cost him even if he had won the final game against King Faisal in 2009.
He was appointed the head coach of the local Black Stars in 2010, but failed to gain a point after Ghana lost all three games at the 2011 Championship of African Nations (CHAN) tournament in Sudan. He had a couple of spells at Wassaman United and B.A. United, but sadly lost his wife and so he went underground for a bit.
During the 2013/2014 season, after Inter Allies had gone six games without a point, he was brought in as head coach and he did it again.
From a position of certain relegation, he guided Inter Allies to finish sixth at the end of the season and his work also took the club to the FA Cup final, before a 1-2 loss to Asante Kotoko denied him another shot at glory.
He had another spell at Hearts of Oak that was not too good but he has cemented his reputation as one of Ghana’s finest ever coaches. Only yesterday I was telling a close friend that Herbert Addo needed national attention and today he is gone. RIP Herbert Addo.
By: Christopher Opoku