TV documentary investigates mystery surrounding death of former Ajax player Yakubu

Published on: 23 October 2021

On November 1, 2017, the Ghanaian Football Association will come with a sad message. "We are saddened to hear of the death of former Ghana, Ajax and Vitesse midfielder Abubakari Yakubu. Our thoughts are with his family." The day before, Yakubu died in a hospital in the Ghanaian city of Tema, where the footballer was born 35 years earlier. But what exactly happened to Yakubu?

It is a question that concerns the Dutch Kok family from Amsterdam. Yakubu lived under their roof for almost eight years, because the family acted as a host family for the player from Ajax's youth academy.

Reason enough for documentary maker Gerdo Vlastuin to look for the mystery behind the death of the charismatic footballer.

"First of all, I went to visit the Kok family. They told me that they couldn't figure out what exactly happened to him. It was an unclear and vague story. According to reports from Ghana, Yakubu had been ill for some time, but nobody knew that for sure," says Vlastuin about the beginning of his search.

The creator then scours the internet to learn more about Yakubu's life and death. "It turned out that there was very little to be found. I heard that an ex-wife of his lived in Amsterdam, but I only had her first name: Evelyne." With that name and the fact that she was once married to Yakubu, Vlastuin sends a message to the Ghanaian community in Amsterdam. Hoping someone can help him further. Former teammates

In the meantime, Vlastuin speaks with all kinds of former teammates of Yakubu. He travels to Arnhem where he asks Theo Janssen, Nicky Hofs and Edward Sturing about their experiences with the midfielder.

In Amsterdam he speaks with David Endt, former team manager at Ajax. And in Breda he will meet Matthew Amoah, the Ghanaian striker with whom Yakubu plays in the national team.

Vlastuin: "I learned more and more about the football player, but also about the person. Amoah told, for example, that Yakubu had 'wrong friends'. But when I asked further questions, he did not want to go into it. back of his tongue."

The same applies to ex-wife Evelyne Tahir, with whom Vlastuin eventually comes into contact. "She wanted to reminisce about what he was like. But the people who moved around him, that remained unclear. It seemed a kind of shame."

Little by little, the picture becomes more and more complete for Vlastuin. "Yakubu was not the best player Ajax ever had, but he was a character. A cult figure who impressed his environment. But there were always people in his environment who wanted something from him and who actually took advantage of him. "

After Yakubu said goodbye to his career as a football player at Vitesse in 2009, he returns to Ghana. He disappears from the picture of the Netherlands and to really get an answer to the question of what happened around the death of Yakubu in 2017, Vlastuin has to go to Ghana.

"Due to the corona pandemic, I had to wait a year and a half for that. Partly thanks to the financial support of Omroep Gelderland and NH Nieuws (which broadcast the documentary) and a crowdfunding campaign, it was finally successful."

"I have been there in the past month and I have talked to his mother, relatives and former Ajax player Anthony Obodai, among others. I am not going to say too much about it yet, but it clearly did not end well with Yakubu."