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Tributes Pour in for ‘the Iron Man’ Peter Bonu Johnson

Gambian coach Peter Bonu Johnson poses before the FIFA Brazil WC2014 qualifiers match against Morocco on June 15, 2013 in Marrakech, Morocco. AFP PHOTOS / FADEL SENNA (Photo credit should read FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)

Tributes have been pouring in for Peter Bonu Johnson, a national football legend who died Sunday at the age of 56 after a long illness.

In 2007, Bonu guided The Gambia U-20 team to third place at the African Youth Championship and a maiden appearance at the World Youth championship in Canada where they exited at the knockout stages.

His death shocked the football community across the country.

“Bonu was a true servant of the game and his memory will live on,” said Joseph Mendy a football commentator. “His death is not only shocking but comes as a loss for the game in our country. We pray that his family finds the strength to cope during this extremely sad time for them.”

Peter Bonu Johnson

Pa Samba Jow, a US-based former football coach described Bonu’s death as a national loss. “Peter Bonu Johnson who the great Saul Njie dubbed “the iron man and robust defender” during his days as a national team player lived a very humble life,” he said. “Bonu was always one of the most passionate footballers. Growing up with him at New Jeshwang (Shanghai), he was always a willing mentor and role model to us all.

“With his demise, The Gambia has lost a great patriot and wonderful human being. I am devastated as a friend and brother.”

According to Jow, Bonu played his club football at Flamemins Football Club, which he founded with people like the late Ransford Stanley, Mike Stanley and others.

The President of The Gambia Football Federation Lamin Kaba Bajo hailed Bonu’s contribution the development of Gambian football.

“He has contributed immensely to the growth and development of football in The Gambia and his death is an irreparable loss to our game and the country at large. I pray for Allah to have mercy on his soul.”

Young Peter Bonu Johnson

Peter Bonu Johnson played for The Gambia national team between 1983 and 1994. He also worked as an assistant coach of the senior squad between 2004 and 2008. In January 2012, he was appointed as the Head Coach of the Scorpions but his stint was short lived after he left four months later. He returned as Head Coach in 2013 for another short stint and was appointed the CHAN team manager in 2015. He left after three months following the team’s exit.

Abdoulie Manga, a local football coach said Bonu was a true gentleman of football. “As a young coach, I had so much respect for Bonu. I looked up to him as he was part of the national team I had seen playing and words cannot describe his loss.”

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