Former Liberia international Gabriel Johns is dead. Gabriel died in Freetown, Sierra Leone following a protracted illness on Friday. He went into coaching following his retirement from active football, guiding several clubs, including Keitrace FC, LPRC Oilers and LISCR FC. At the peak of his career, Gabriel became Liberia deputy coach to Hungarian Bertalan Bicskei (deceased) from 2010-2011.
The Liberia Football Association (LFA) regrets his passing and extends its deepest condolences to his family and the Liberia Football Coaches Association (Lifoca). “We may not understand why Gabriel left this earth so soon or why he left before we were ready to say good-bye, but little by little, we begin to remember not just that he died, but that he lived. And that Gabriel’s life will give us memories too beautiful to forget. “Fare thee well my friend. Fare thee well my brother. May God grant Gabriel and all faithful departed eternal rest, amen,” said LFA President Mustapha Raji.
Coach Johns won the 2011/2012 LFA first division championship with LISCR FC. He led the team to their second Caf Champions League, losing to Cameroon’s Union Douala 3-1 on aggregate in the 2013 edition. “We are deeply sad to hear about the passing of our former head coach, Gabriel Johns. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” LISCR said on their official Facebook page. Gabriel was one of the stand-out figures among professional colleagues. “He understands the game better than most coaches,” Caf instructor Anthony Edusei of Ghana said in 2013 after a License “B” coaching seminar in which Gabriel made the highest mark in practical and theoretical presentations.
“There is a big difference when it comes to the ‘C’ and ‘B’. The ‘B’ teaches a complete soccer philosophy and I can promise you that every coach sitting this course will make a difference in the coaching arena from now on”, said Gabriel during the special course on 15 August. As Keitrace coach, he was the first to congratulate Gambia’s Tapha Manneh, who won the 2017 LFA first division league with LISCR. The Shipping Boys accumulated 42 points from 22 games (10 wins and 12 draws), forcing Gabriel’s Keitrace to a 1-1 draw on the final day. Manneh guided LISCR to an unbeaten campaign, becoming the first club in post-war Liberia, having equaled Oilers’ run of 19 unbeaten league games with an impressive 3-0 win over Jubilee FC. It was Gabriel, who made history in 2009 by guiding Oilers to that unbeaten run before the Oil Boys lost 2-1 United Soccer Ambassadors.
In TalkFootball, a Facebook chat room of stakeholders, Johns wrote: “Tapha Manneh deserves the praise. He worked hard and I don’t see any problem with that. Congratulations to him. “We all started the race and today, he won the race. That shows us that we all as coaches should work hard next season to steal the show from him. A good preparation and good organization have [given] him the perfect result.” May God grant eternal rest to Gabriel and all faithful departed and perpetual light shine on him.