Liberians In Nigeria Mourn Soccer Legend


By Richard F. Ngafuan & Ernest G. Smith, Jr.

 

 

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

June 4, 2004

 

Boye "Dino Zoff" Cooper, former Liberian celebrated national goalkeeper has died on the Oru Refugees Camp amidst the wailing and tears of grief - stricken refugees at the Oru Refugees Camp. The legendary Boye Cooper died from a brief illness during the early hours of Thursday, June 3, 2004 at precisely 1:36 A.M.

This melancholy event does not only strike a deep blow on his bereaved family, it also serves as a sad day for Liberian Soccer as Boye Cooper, his life, and his service to his country will forever be remembered when Liberian soccer is mentioned. So to take a cursory sketch into the life of this famous soccer maestro is to do a great disservice to the life of this soccer saint. For sure his life was replete with a crescendo of achievements in the soccer arena of Liberia, yea the West African sub-region! But for the sake of allowing the world to know about the life he led, we will attempt to draw his life sketch while taking the blame for rendering short the gigantic history of this great son of Liberia.

Boye Cooper began his life's journey in 1957 at Zinc Camp, Sinkor on the suburb of Monrovia. While yet a soccer tendril he demonstrated exceptional flair for preventing the leather sphere from gaining passage through the goal post. Boye proved a mighty possibility as a soccer hero when he was still a student at the St. Samuels High School and the Wells Hairston High School.

Though "Dino Zoff" began his soccer career at a very early age, one of his first notable moves to soccer fame was when he joined the Eleven Rollers Football Club in 1971. In 1976, Cooper donned the colors of the "Show Boys" or the Cedar United Football Club. He remained at Cedar until 1977. From Cedar, Boye Cooper made a brief stop at the St. Joseph Warriors Football Club (The Catholic Boys).

His major leap to the realm of soccer supremacy began in 1979 when he joined the Mighty Barrolle Football Club where his brilliant performances made him a household name.

Based upon his splendid performances at the club level, he was called to national duty in 1980 to man the post of the Lone Star of Liberia. Boye Cooper proved his nationalism even in soccer as he gave his entire energy and substance in ensuring victory for the Lone Star of Liberia. Some of his monumental performances with the Lone Star were the Lone Star / Mauritania match which ended 3-0 in the favor Lone Star in 1984.

Also in 1984, he kept the Lone Star post in an annual soccer tournament hosted by the Malaysian FA. At this tournament, Liberia and Algeria represented Africa as Liberia was placed in group with Brazil. Liberia lost 2-3 to Brazil, but "Dino" was at his very best.

Between 1983 and 1985, he captained the "Mighty Roller", making headways in the African Cup Winners Cup and led his team to capturing the Liberian Football Association Cup in 1984. One of his spectacular performances with the Rollers was against Hopper Jerusalem (an Israelis professional club) in 1985.

Having carved a niche for himself with The Rollers, he moved over to the Invincible Eleven (I.E) Football Club, the major archrival of the Rollers on the Liberian Soccer landscape, in 1985 and again won kudos for himself as a life wire of the Yellow Boys. During his sojourn with the Invincible Eleven his most notable matches were the I.E / Royal Armed Forces of Morocco match in Rabat in 1987 and the IE / Raja Casablanca Match when Boye Cooper saved the Yellow Boys from imminent defeat.

While still active and highly adored in the Liberian soccer setting, he traveled to Hamburg, Germany in 1988 to attend a soccer academy, all in an effort to improve on his already enviable record and to advance his technical knowledge in soccer.

Upon his return in 1990, he was forced to flee to Guinea as a result of the Liberian civil conflict. Being a refugee could not stop his passion for the game as he was soon to head the coaching team of an American company soccer team in Guinea between 1990 and 1993.

From Guinea he moved to Ivory Coast where he coached ULIB, a Liberian soccer team based in Abidjan from 1993 to 1995.

His desire to take his coaching career to higher heights led him to Nigeria in 1995. After properly acclimatizing to the Nigerian soccer atmosphere, he landed at Zabgai F.C of Bauchi State (a 3rd Division team) as head coach from 1999 to 2003. During his tenure at Bauchi he promoted Zabgai F.C. to Division 2 during the 1999 season and proudly landed her to the runners up position of the state's FA Challenge Cup in 2002. After a job well accomplished at Zabgai F.C, he resigned with honor in 2003.

Until his death "Dino Zoff" served as one of the most senior coaches of the Refugees Sports Association in Nigeria along with Jokar Wreahcar, Sayon Davies, Waka Harron, Samuel N. Cooper and Kennedy Musue.

In the mood of national mourning the Liberian Refugees Community in Nigeria is calling on the nation's pride and Sports Ambassador, former World Africa and European best player George Weah, James Debbah, the Liberian Interim Government, the Liberian Football Association and all soccer enthusiasts to join hands with the bereaved family and the refugees community in facilitating the flying of the remains of this fallen hero back to his father land where he is expected to be given a befitting burial.

Boye Cooper was married with two children. His body now lies at the Ogun State University Teaching Hospital's mortuary, at Shagamu.