Ghana football has been plunged into a state of mourning following the death of one of the successful former FIFA referees, L.O. Laryea after a short illness.
His death occurred early morning of Tuesday, January 21, at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital where he had been on admission for a few days after a short illness at the age of 75 years.
Though christened Louis Lionheart Okai Mensah Laryea, it was the name L.O Laryea that became widely known and popular within the football fraternity.
“ Indeed, with a heavy heart, I confirm that my father, passed away this morning at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital,” Mr David Laryea, his son confirmed to Graphic Sportsonline.
Ref L.O. Laryea played a key role as a CAF Referee's Instructor
Life in football
Though a staff of the Ministry of Finance, L.O. as he was popularly referred, also showed keen interest in football as a referee and rose through the ranks to become a FIFA referee.
Together with the late Major Rtd George Lamptey, they set high standards and became the pride of Ghana on the continent so far as officiating was concerned.
After his retirement as a referee and also from active public service, L.O was appointed an Instructor for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and played key role in training referees across the continent.
In 1991, he was honoured by the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) as the Best Referee.
He also became the Chairman of the Referees Association of Ghana (RAG) and held the role for close to a decade and ended his tenure in 2011.
In 2012, Mr Laryea was appointed the Refereeing Manager at the Ghana Football Association (GFA), a role he played until December 2017, when he decided to step down.
He served as a mentor to many referees and proudly built two generations of referees – his son David and grandson, Daniel Laryea following his footsteps to also earn FIFA badges in their career.
Francis Oti Akenten is saddened by the passing away of Ref L.O. Laryea
Football family saddened
Ref David Laryea told the Graphic Sportsonline that his father’s death was sad but it was inevitable.
“The entire family are so heartbroken over his death. It was unexpected as he was sick for only some few days. We didn’t think he would be gone so soon, but death is inevitable and so we accept that it’s God’s way.
“We can be proud of what he achieved in the sport and how he has inspired generations after him,” Mr Laryea said.
The Technical Director of the GFA, Francis Oti Akenten, choked on his tears as he spoke to the Graphic Sportsonline, saying he had lost his best friend.
“I have lost a man I respected so much who became my best friend and big brother. We met just last week and we spoke after that. I can’t believe he’s gone. May his gentle soul respect in peace,” Coach Oti said of the man with whom he shared the same office for six years during his time as GFA Refereeing Manager.
A former Executive Committee member of the GFA, Ms Leanier A.O. Addy also said of L.O.’s death:“I am devastated. This man was like a father to many of us.
“He encouraged me to become a referee when I ended my playing career and again encouraged and even endorsed my nomination to contest the executive committee position when he was the chairman of RAG. It speaks volumes of the relationship we had.
“He wasn't greedy and embraced people from all corners of this country and beyond.
“All I ask is for the good Lord to receive his gentle soul. Rest In Peace Daddy L.O. My condolence to the family, especially his wife and children," Ms Addy said.