Accra, Jan 25, GNA - The Management of Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club have noted with deep sorrow the recent death of Ebenezer Ayikai Welbeck on December 14, 2004 and said his departure would leave a big hole in the Phobian family which will be difficult to fill.
According to a tribute from the Hearts Secretariat, copied to GNA Sports, it said Mr Welbeck would solely be missed considering his love, dedication and total commitment to the Phobian course.
The tribute said Mr Welbeck who before joining the Phoabian Family was an employee of the Electricity Corporation of Ghana, was a masseur and travelled every weekend from his station to Accra to attend to the physical and health needs of the players of the club.
It said that Mr Welbeck was with the club during its transitional period, which saw them move from the Technical Park (now Accra Polytechnic) through Kaadjano to its present training grounds and also travelled throughout the country with the club during its matches.
The tribute said Welbeck was always the first to run from the bench to attend to injured players like C. K Gyamfi, Addo Odametey, Abeka Ankrah and their generation of footballers anytime they lie on the pitch in pain and this dedication earned him the name "Papanii".
It said that when the demanding nature of the masseur's job took a toll on him, Welbeck did not end his association with Hearts but he moved into administration to become the administrative secretary of the club in 1985.
"There too, he distinguished himself very well and was never found wanting. He also combined this demanding job with one of his gifts which was his ability to unearth talented players".
"Indeed it was through his ingenuity and hard work that Hearts recruited players like Henry Acquah, Emmanuel Quarshie, Santrofi Acquaah, the late Anyetei Sowah and Ben Adjei to contribute their quota to the development of the Phobian family in the late 1980's".
The tribute also said it was through his recommendations that Hearts recruited their present Administrative Secretary to understudy him with the view of taking over even he eventually retires.
It said until his death, Welbeck was still involved in activities of Hearts and such was his faith in the team that he predicted a win for Hearts in the just ended Confederation Cup finals, which the Phobians went ahead to win.
The tribute said but sadly enough, he was not present to see his prediction become a reality as he passed away three days after the initial date for the match was postponed.